Be Patient, Keep Writing, Be Patient, Stop Writing

There’s a saying somewhere that it takes 15 years between the knowing and the doing.

I’ve known for a long time that if I want to be writer, it’s the habit that counts. Even if it’s a few hundred words a day, consistency is what compounds to create a body of work.

But my less mature self, the one that still thinks heroes perform in blazes of glory and bursts of divine inspiration, is in fact what prevents the habit from forming. Because 100 words, for that little self, is not enough.

Yes, I’ve had days where I knocked out 10 solid pages — they were even good pages! But the danger is in creating cycles of burnout.

On the other hand, trusting that today’s work can end because tomorrow’s will begin is an act of faith, an act of knowing that I won’t cease to be a writer simply because I only write a little bit today, I won’t cease to be a director simply because I only spent $50 on the latest film.

Hemingway was able to leave off writing mid-sentence, because he trusted his future self to return to that page.

Building a creative habit is about building trust with myself. So a habit of writing, for example, is as much about the stopping of the writing as it is the starting.

Starting to write, at a consistent time, is the habit, it’s where the barriers lie.

Directing regularly, despite limitations of time, space, or budget, is the habit.

But maybe the stopping is just as important, because consciously stopping sends a message to that inner self that I trust myself to return.

And trust, in turn, motivates me, so tomorrow’s return might have a little bit more energy.