Why an absence from writing does not make the heart grow fonder

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anatomical medical heart drawing

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder—but I’m not sure if that sentiment extends to bloggers. In fact I know it doesn’t because for the last few weeks I haven’t been posting anything and I’ve been watching the traffic to my website drop to alarmingly low levels. The truth of the matter is, I don’t think any absence from writing is a good thing.

When it comes to being a blogger absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder Click To Tweet

A mixture of things contributed to my writing laziness:

SEE ALSO: 5 amazing writers whose travels influenced their writing journeys

  • Most of my writing that happens on holidays stays on holidays. I don’t know what it is about being away but even thinking about my travel journals gives me heart palpitations. It’s like I’ve been possessed by the drive thru speaker box in Dude Where’s My Car and all I can say is ‘and then’.
  • The more stressed about not writing or posting blogs I get the more I avoid doing it. Pretty much the following image sums up my personality:

Emu's with their heads buried in sand

On a side note the image is actually unlikely to sum up the personality of Ostriches (or Emus for that matter).

By listing these excuses for not posting a blog in over ten weeks I have:

  1. made it clear that these excuses are a load of rubbish and should have had no impact on my ability to keep writing and posting blogs and
  2. demonstrated how irritating it is when people make excuses.

Because excuses don’t burn calories (or write blogs/books/anything else)

Excuses don’t burn calories or write books, blogs or anything else Click To Tweet

I’ve spoken about my loathing for motivational exercise quotes before but as I explained then, it’s mostly because those sorts of sayings are annoyingly true.

SEE ALSO: 10 New Year’s resolutions every writer should stick to

Sure sometimes it’s hard to put those kind of simple wisdoms into practice but the thing is when we do, achieving our goals becomes less difficult and ultimately we are more motivated to keep going.

One of my favourite authors who puts this idea into practise is Haruki Murakami

According to him in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, the most important aspects of being a writer are focus and endurance. Without these, talent is nothing.

Part of Murakami’s brilliance and indeed his appeal for me, stems from his ability for concentration and hard work. It’s why he’s successful and it’s why he’s published so many novels. I like that he doesn’t sugar coat his writing process. He’s honest about how hard it is to be a writer and how much commitment it takes to produce the amount of publishable work he does. He outlined his typical day when he’s working on a novel in an interview with the Paris Review:

“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long—six months to a year—requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

And perhaps that’s what we, as writers forget

Well at least I do. I forget that writing my blog or writing my book or writing a short story is exactly like the copy writing I do for work. That unless I set myself a quota I’m not going to achieve anything. Sometimes I delude myself into thinking I can’t write because I don’t feel inspired. But when I have a deadline for work looming—even when I was away—I always manage to get my copy in on time so the whole idea about waiting for creativity to hit is clearly just an unhelpful excuse.

As Murakami’s book outlines, when it comes to an athletic pursuit everyone knows that talent accounts for a minimal percentage of success. Sure soccer player Lionel Messi’s natural ability is irrefutable, but we also recognise that he has put in hours and hours and in fact years upon years of hard work into transforming that talent into greatness.

While natural ability can be irrefutable it's hard work that transforms talent into greatness. Click To Tweet

And indeed Lionel Messi’s hat-trick algorithm for achievement on the sporting field is exactly the same as Murakami’s for creativity.

Talent + Focus + Endurance = Success

Murakami’s algorithm for creativity is Talent + Focus + Endurance = Success Click To Tweet

So if writer’s actually take on the advice of experts, following this simple algorithm (myself included) and remember that nothing is an excuse for not putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys) then we’ll all be achieving our goals a whole lot sooner, be a whole lot happier for it and as a bonus our readers will stay a lot less pissed off with us too.

SEE ALSO: Frodo had goals and why you need them too on your writing journey

What are some of the ways you motivate yourself to write? Do you agree with this algorithm for success in writing? When, if ever do you think it’s a good time to take a break from writing?

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