Dear Jill: Getting better at hard things

Dear Jill,

The hardest thing lately has been to sit down and write. Writing for fun or writing for work, it’s just felt torturous.

I came across this article in a newsletter I got over the weekend called How to do Hard Things.

The article recommends adding the hard thing to easy things and practicing until the hard part is easy. So I decided there are several things I can do to get over this hump.

  1. Easy thing: outlining; Hard thing: writing I love making a good plan. I need to pair this with writing. My outlines need to be more fleshed out, rather than the goal posts I’ve been letting them be. It will make the final writing process less daunting (hopefully), but will allow me to work on writing in smaller increments.
  2. Easy thing: research; Hard thing: writing I can get lost in research, but this eats up at my writing time. It’s hard to quantify what I’ve been doing all day if I don’t have some sort of product. That doesn’t mean the research isn’t valuable, it’s just much better if I can use it in some way. Therefore, I’m going to write more about the things I research. I won’t move on to the next topic until I’ve written something related to that research.

The article also recommends trying beginner exercises to get you going with the hard thing you’re trying to get better at.

I took a look at an article on writing discipline and decided to try the following:

  • Write small passages and build up. This can mean scenes in my stories or small blocks of social media posts rather than doing the whole batch at once.
  • Create a routine. I usually find it easier to write in the afternoon. When possible, I’m going to write when I get back from lunch, rather than trying to force it in the morning when I’m more geared to taking things in.

I don’t supposed it will make the moment of starting any easier, but it will get me going. It’s a bit like getting up in the morning—I hate it for the first five minutes and then it’s OK. Especially if there’s coffee.


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