Write, even a little, every day.
Writing is the engine to organizing thinking. Writing, intrinsically, pushes the pistons of thinking in, out, in, out, in, out. It expels the gunk of the mind and smears it onto paper. For me, there is something profound within this hopeful daily act that extends far deeper into my heart and soul than the act of writing itself. But it’s the act of putting all those nasty and brilliant internal things into physical, observable form. Like dumping all the junk from the mind’s day onto a piece of paper and being able to look at it, observe it, be angry at it, wonder why things were the way they were, then, go to bed. The beauty at this point is that the mess is no longer in your head but on paper, perhaps there for eternity, and if you don’t like it, you can erase it. I say, give the computer or the paper the grief. Let them handle the mess. And let it stay not in my brain.
Even a little.
Why not a lot? Or better yet, why even a little? I find that if I give myself something daily to reach for, something attainable, in sight, graspable, then I am likely to just sit and do the thing I want to do because then I believe I can do it so long as it won’t require too much effort. It is the starter to the engine. The initial encouragement. The flame. To write is not enough, to manage my own expectations and mentally prepare myself for the act of writing, I need something that helps me gauge the breadth and depth, or lack thereof, of the end product. A sentence, a short paragraph, a thought. These are often the little pieces which inform the longer ones. But the longer ones may never occur if the short ones never manifest. It’s like stretching before working out, or like the first mile in a 10k. It’s awful. Really awful. But it’s necessary, in fact, imperative. Sometimes I eat half a banana before I run and that makes the first mile bearable. This is closest I’ve gotten to finding the half-a-banana of writing.
Every day tells me that there should be no exception to the rule. Consistency is imperative. It is fine-tuning the engine to run not just smoothly but efficiently. It makes the engine and the starter work together in harmony. If you think of a car that sits in the garage for a few weeks, perhaps longer, you know that there can be problems getting the car started, perhaps for good reason. All the parts of the car need conditioning and require consistent use. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, and cars that start after months or years of non-use. My brain is like a restored El Camino. It can’t compete with the efficiency of the Prius. But once my oil has been changes and the starter replaced, it works hard and looks good. I’m still working on the whole gas mileage thing though.