This morning I seemed stopped cold in the rhubarb jungle. For the first three days topics, subjects, ideas were there. Today, not so much. Isn’t that the way it is with so much of life. You begin a task, an adventure with enthusiasm and then, eh.
I know that I like to write and in some ways I need to write. It is a way of exploring my inner and outer worlds. As Joan Didion said, “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.”
The challenge is to make writing a habit, so that when it turns from fun to drudgery, when the creative drought sets in and doing anything even scrubbing the kitchen floor seems a better alternative I will still write.
Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Better Than Before, talks about habits and how to make them. “To change our habits,” she says, “we first have to figure out ourselves.” We’re setting an expectation for ourselves, she continues, and “therefore, to change our habits, it’s crucial to understand how we respond to expectations.” Her italics not mine.
Rubin’s book and her online materials includes a quiz to help readers determine how we “face outer expectations (meet deadlines, observe traffic regulations) and inner expectations (stop napping, give up sugar).”
She’s developed a quiz and a Venn diagram for you to find out if you are more or less one of the following:
- An Upholder responds readily to outer and inner expectations
- A Questioner questions all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
- Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.
There I am, somewhere between Obliger and Rebel. It means that as much as I want to develop the habit of daily writing it is going to be tough. Heading into the rhubarb jungle every day and hacking away at the undergrowth means that I’ll need a group of people to whom I am responsible.
“Your conscience,” I remember some writer saying, “is the voice at the bottom of the stairs calmly saying ‘time to get up and go to school’”. Will need to form a Conscience Collective to help me my expectations for this blog.