Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 5:

“I wish I could write as easily as I
[exercise/cook/clean/or . . .].”

Instead of thinking about writing right now, think about something that you are disciplined about, something you do regularly.

Maybe it’s exercising, cooking, reading the newspaper, turning off your phone, leaving work on time to pick up the kids or catch the bus, keeping up with politics, being well coiffed—anything where another human being has said that they admire your discipline in that area.

Try to call one of those conversations, where someone expressed admiration for your dedication in that arena. Usually, that person compares themselves negatively to you and concludes, “But I can’t be like you because I just couldn’t possibly ….”

  • “figure out how the weight equipment works.”
  • “go to the grocery store once a week to get healthy ingredients.”
  • “be cut off from my phone for two hours.”
  • “do yoga next to all those svelte and beautiful housespouses.”
  • “learn to drive in this city; it’s just too scary.”

In those conversations, what was your response? Didn’t you usually shrug and say, “for me, it’s really not that tough.” And sometimes, privately, you thought, “that an excuse, not a reason.”

If you struggle to get down to writing, try to transfer the knowledge from your areas of expertise. That is, when you find yourself giving an excuse for not writing, train yourself to think about what you would say to someone who isn’t good at what you are good at.

If you go the gym when you are tired, what can you say to yourself when you feel too tired to write?

If you get up early to blow-dry your hair, what can you say to yourself when you don’t feel like getting up early to write?

If you find time to read the newspaper even when you are busy, what can you say to yourself when you feel too busy to write?

Take your self-knowledge in an area of strength and apply it to an area of weakness.

Solution to Writing Obstacle No. 5, one of the motivation obstacles listed on page 31 of Belcher’s Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success (University of Chicago Press, 2019).