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Accountability Exercise for Artists: Paired Association

Oftentimes, the hardest step of the writing process is the part where you actually get yourself to sit down and write. Seems silly, right? You have the capacity to formulate great ideas and create a script, but actually doing the work seems to exceed that capacity.

The problem isn’t that you’re incapable of completing the task at hand. The problem is that you’re inundated with lots of other tasks, and getting yourself to focus on just this one is difficult or unimportant maybe.

Instead of trying to work at one task at a time, try this instead: paired association. It’s actually a psychological phenomenon in which two stimuli become associated with one another after being paired together repeatedly.

In your case, one of your stimuli is the task of writing and the other stimuli is another task you like to complete or tend to prioritize over writing. Maybe it’s exercise or cleaning. So what would happen if you combined these two tasks over and over again?

The simpler or more essential task would begin to trigger your writing process! By pairing these tasks together, you’ll indicate to your brain that it’s time to focus on writing while you’re working on the other task.

So here’s an exercise: over the next week, try writing a scene while going on your daily afternoon walk or dictating it into your phone while cleaning your kitchen. Every day. Choose a practice that’s essential to your everyday life, and combine it with this more difficult task of writing.

Any task will do! You can try drinking your morning coffee, playing classical music, or engaging in something else you find relaxing while writing. The more you pair these with your writing process, the more you will associate them together.

Soon enough, you’ll find writing to be just as simple of a task as going for a walk. It’s just a matter of psychology.

Happy writing!

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