When you undertake a new project or begin a new class, you start out with all that delicious energy and enthusiasm. You cannot wait to get to the studio or buy the books on the teacher’s reading list.
Maybe you make a schedule and dutifully show up for the work. For the first several weeks you’re flying, but then the energy starts to peter out. You continue to show up, but it’s not as fun.
And then the work gets hard or you get tired or the new shiny object appears in your peripheral vision and you get distracted.
You feel guilty because you set out with an intention and didn’t quite follow through.
This can happen with Continuous Practice. You are excited to find a structure and a community to support you. You roll up your sleeves and dive in.
Maybe you fly through the days, no problem. But it’s equally likely that interruptions throw you off course. The kids get the flu or you take a vacation or you simply have a busy day and can’t fit in your practice.
The guilt starts to set in, and you don’t show up the next day and it starts to spiral and you feel like you’ve failed.
The problem is you think you’ve signed up for a marathon that you either win or lose.
But you’re not going anywhere, and aside from the people hitting the “like” button on Facebook, which we use like a bow of acknowledgment, you receive no external validation.
During the five years I’ve been leading Continuous Practice, with great humility, I’ve learned a few things about staying in there with practice, which I hope you’ll find useful in recommitting to your own practice.
- Make your practice work with the life you have. If you have three children or a full-time job, chances are you’re not going to be able to write every day. Try to find a regular time to practice, but don’t flog yourself if you have to forego writing to drive the carpool or get to an early meeting. Try to fit it in another time during the day or wait until the following day.
- Watch for the shoulds. There is a subtle distinction between showing up for yourself because you’ve committed to daily writing practice and torturing yourself because you can only fit it in three days a week. Always be kind to yourself. Do what works for you, not what you think you should be doing because someone else is doing more.
- Give yourself the space you need. Practice at its best creates spaciousness, but it also needs a little space to blossom. Give yourself a few weeks at least for daily writing practice to become a habit.
- Stay connected to the Continuous Practice Community. Be inspired by your fellow writers. Get the support you need to stick with it over the long run.
- Most importantly, Continuous Practice is not a marathon, but a structure in which to cultivate a relationship with daily writing. Some days you’re going to be madly in love and some days you’re going to want to break up. Good relationships ride the ebb and flow. Stay in there and see what works for you.
What’s getting in the way of your daily practice? How could you modify the parameters to make it work? You can reply in the comment or send me a message through my contact page. I’d love to hear from you.