November 7, 2009
Awww man it’s Saturday—do I have to write?
You don’t have to write today, tomorrow, or ever again.
Today is the day you battle one of your most powerful demons—the one that doesn’t want you to succeed. Every day just as you are getting set to do your writing this demon is thinking of all the things you could be doing instead of writing.
This demon is pretty smart. It doesn’t choose trivial tasks that you can easily blow off. It reminds you of that email you need to get to. Not the stuff you can scan and delete but the worthy email you set aside to put some thought into before responding. after all this demon is really you. Oh and you meant to go through your winter clothes and pull out the items you are going to donate to help a needy family get through the winter. Surely that’s more important than writing. And don’t forget the leaves. They don’t rake themselves you know.
It’s not that the demon is wrong. These alternatives to writing are important. In many cases they are more important than you spending a half hour or so writing. But it’s a false trade off. You can do your daily writing and still get to that email, those clothes, the leaves, or whatever your demon is whispering in your ear.
You need to get your writing done AND these other tasks so that you start to reassure your demon. Do this day after day and your demon will realize that you’re serious about this. Day after day and you can shut the demon out during your writing time. It doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying—that’s his job.
You are alone and you’re not alone.
Your demons are, of course, you. Only you can battle them. But we are here with you helping by battling our own along with you. It’s why I posted to this blog today. I woke up this morning and thought "it’s Saturday, I could take the weekend off from the blog." That wasn’t enough to convince myself so my demon added, "besides, no one is really reading these posts. Why do you even bother?" I don’t know about yours, but my demon has a real sarcastic tone and rolls his eyes a lot.
The only way to beat my demon is to write. You can take today off. I can take today off. Nothing is really lost today but it strengthens the demon next time. He knows that sometimes he can win. It empowers him to try again. He sees our weaknesses and he hasn’t even whipped out the old "let’s take a break and make some popcorn".
And so that’s what keeps me writing every day. It’s what I’m doing blogging whether anyone is reading or not. I glance over at my demon. He’s mostly receded for the morning encouraged only by my continually referring to him. He’s not a bad guy. He’s just mischievous. Tomorrow you’ll meet another demon and that one is just plain mean.
This post originally appeared in the Pragmatic Life blog.