A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog.
Today, I wanted to share something a yoga teacher shared with me. He was talking about yoga practice, but as I was listening to him, I couldn’t help thinking about how applicable his words were to my writing practice, as well. His topic? Avoiding laziness.
Lazy. It’s not a very nice word. None of us wants to think of ourselves as lazy—especially not when it comes to our writing goals! But the way my teacher was talking about it, it was less of a pejorative and more of an obstacle we all have to overcome as we strive to improve. He brought up three types of laziness that can get in the way of a good yoga practice—or writing practice, since that’s what we’re all about here!
LAZINESS #1: SLOTH
This is the most obvious form of laziness—not mustering the energy or the motivation to get things done. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix instead of writing or revising. Taking a nap during scheduled work time. Is there anything inherently wrong with needing downtime? Of course not. But if sloth is keeping us from meeting our goals, we might need to reassess how hard we’re willing to push ourselves.
LAZINESS #2: MISMANAGED TIME
Those of us who are crazy-busy all the time couldn’t possibly be lazy, right? The only reason we aren’t writing as much as we should be is because we simply don’t have enough time. But how much of each busy day is devoted to necessary tasks, and how much to activities that are frivolous? Could we write instead of watching mindless TV or going to yet another happy hour? Could writing be squeezed into a lunch break? Battling this form of laziness is all about setting priorities—if writing is important, we shouldn’t let it be overshadowed by activities that aren’t.
LAZINESS #3: DISCOURAGEMENT
I think writers can relate to this one even more than aspiring yogis. After all, having a hard time achieving a certain yoga pose isn’t quite the same as putting yourself and your writing out there and getting crushing feedback, or dozens of rejections, or bad reviews on a published work. Being a writer can be discouraging, and we all have to learn to cope with the difficult times—and celebrate the successes. So where does laziness factor in? Every time we avoid writing because “No agent will ever want to work with me, anyway,” or because “I’ll never figure out this tough scene, so why bother?” When we let discouragement keep us from trying, that’s a problem.
I left that yoga class truly inspired to work harder. To push the things that should be priorities in my life (including writing, but not only writing!) to their rightful place in my busy schedule. To write even when I’m feeling frustrated or discouraged about my progress. And the more I thought about my teacher’s words, the more I wanted to share them with my fellow writers! I hope thinking about laziness in a new way is as helpful to you as it was to me.
After all, what's the first rule of writing? Butt in chair.
Now I'm going to take my own advice and get to work. :)