is consistency really the key?
Back during the summer, I dropped some interesting insight into how my mind works.
So my goals for this month are simple (I literally say that every month): be productive. Make the most of my time. Feel productive rather than piddly.
Naturally, I just wanna write consistently. I know 1,500 words a day isn’t, you know, realistic...but 100 words a day is. I can do that. Even if I have to write on my phone or a notepad. So that’s my goal: write consistently.
Some people say consistent writing isn’t necessarily a good thing or the “trick” others claim it is—and as someone who (1) is as scattered as Ezekiel’s hair (if you comment below that you got this reference, I’m turning it into an official simile) and (2) operates entirely on inspiration and motivation and sweet tea, I honestly agree. No, it’s not the “trick” to being a good writer or making the most out of your writing. For some people, it probably would leave you feeling resentful and burnt-out.
But because I’m driven by drive (oh, gosh, that’s cheesy 🤦♀️), I crave routine. I desire structure and organization. That’s one reason why I’m actually outlining (ish) Something Bright & Beautiful: to give myself the discipline I need to overcome my laziness dependence on inspiration.
There are writers who do need consistency and discipline to hone their skills, and there are writers who need to break out of monotonous routines to regain their love for the craft. Which are you? Would you be interested in a blog post on consistency in writing? Drop a comment down below! (This sounds like a script for a YouTube video. 😂)
Surprise, surprise, I did have people comment that they were definitely interested in hearing more about consistency in writing—and in typical me fashion, it’s taken me this long to actually write something about it.
So I won’t hold off any longer! Let’s talk consistency.
what is consistency?
There’s probably a dozen different ways to use this word, but today, I’m using it in the sense that most writers do: being committed to and actually managing to write every. single. day. Or at least on a basis so regular that it requires some effort to commit to.
Consistency is a controversial topic. Some advise you to literally write every single day. Force yourself to remain committed to the craft. Train yourself to write, even when you don’t want to or have the inspiration. On the flip side, others assert that this method is damaging and can cause burnout. When you force yourself to do something, it becomes a chore, and before long, you may grow to resent it. So why turn a passion into a prison?
Both sides are correct. Certain writers need consistency; others don’t. It’s simply a matter of knowing which kind of writer you are.
do you need consistency?
Every day consistency can keep you sane...or drive you mad. It can help you cultivate healthy habits or unhealthy ones. It can challenge you to be disciplined or leave you feeling burnt-out.
So how do you know which end of the spectrum you’ll fall on? How do you know if you need consistency, to set up a schedule, to stick to a routine?
Easy. What do you do now? How does it work for you?
If you, without any pressure from anyone/anything else, naturally crave order in your chaos and have a hard time keeping things organized and steady without some form of routine—then consistency is going to really benefit you. For example, I usually work in bursts of inspiration…and when I do, I end up going months without writing and let opportunities pass me by. I love organization and habits and routines, and when I establish those, I flourish—but it takes some effort to get to that point. Consistency is something I need to help me grow, develop, and stay committed. In fact, the more consistent I am, the more inspired I stay. The two work in tandem, not against each other.
But, if you try and enforce strict goals, make schedules, set timers, and more—but you never find yourself making good progress, you feel depleted and dissatisfied with your work, and you look at writing as a chore instead of a creative outlet, a calling, and a form of worship…then it sounds like that regular every day kind of consistency isn’t working for you. Especially if you’re putting off rest, disregarding important things like family and eating and time with God, or having to make major changes in your schedule/daily life, you need to reevaluate your priorities. You need to take a break, first off, and then figure out a looser rhythm. Put God, family, your job, your school—whatever it is that’s more important at the time—first, then see where writing fits in. You may find yourself more enthused and inspired when you free yourself to write whenever you truly want to and have time to.
can consistency still benefit everyone?
Yes, actually. Like I mentioned before, a lot of times, people in the creative world view consistency as an every day commitment. Consistency equals writing (or creating) every. single. day. At least in their minds.
But that’s not true.
Real consistency is finding a schedule—however loose or strict or often or seldom—that works for you and sticking to it. Consistency means making good on your commitments and not letting the little things get in the way of you doing what you’re called to do.
If you do commit to thirty minutes of writing every day (something I’m trying to do this November), then consistency means sticking to it the best you can and making a conscious and healthy habit of doing so. But if you commit to one day of writing each month, then sticking to it is still consistency.
So when you get caught up in these arguments of write every day vs. write whenever you have inspiration, don’t take either of those to mean that you can’t be consistent in some form or that one or the other is 100% bad 100% of the time. Take a look at what your writing process and schedule looks like now. Consider how your mind works and when you feel like you’ve done your best and enjoyed writing. Then establish an idea or rhythm—not even a specific schedule—of what you want your writing time to look like and stick to it as best as you can.
it’s your heart & mind that matter
In the end, all that matters is your heart posture and your mindset. Regardless of what you’re doing, if you view it as a chore or you’re doing it for any other reason but for God—your heart’s in the wrong place. You need a mindset change.
When we surrender ourselves and everything we do to God and His direction, and when we view our creation and actions as a form of worship to Him, we find that whether we create every day or once every six months, we do it well. We do it with gratitude and joy. We do it with His help, through Him, not of our own strength and ability. And that, dear writer, matters infinitely more than any schedule every could.
So even if you feel like you’ve committed to a form of consistency that works for you, I encourage you to take a step back and check your heart and mind. Consider where your intentions lay and who you’re creating for, why you’re creating at all. Ask the Lord to continually renew your spirit and help you serve Him in all you do, whenever and wherever and however you do it.