Tip 18: Practise the practice

Bikram Choudhury (love him or loathe him) is the world’s most infamous yoga instructor who built a wildly successful business based on just 26 yoga postures. So what can Bikram yoga teach us about writing a book? 

‘You fail only if you stop writing.’ ~ Ray Bradbury

I’ve been doing Bikram yoga for over five years, and in that time I have never managed to do the pose Toe Stand.

I bend at the waist, in Tree pose, touch my fingers to the floor and sit down on my heels. Then, I pick one hand up off the floor and bring it to my heart centre … and that’s about as far as I can go.

That is until, last week.

This time, I set my intention (Hot Tip 3), and brought my other hand up to my chest.

I didn’t hesitate, I didn’t fall – I balanced, on my toes, two hands off the floor.

I finally balanced in Toe Stand – a pose I’ve been practicing for over five years, a pose I’d been saying I could never do.

You think I stopped there? Happy I achieved my ‘goal’?

Nope.

I did Toe Stand again the following week; and the week after that.

I kept going.

For Bikram is a practice; and a practice means doing it over and over again.

Writing is also a practice; that means you have to write, over and over again.

You have to write when you don’t feel like it.
Write when you don’t think you can do it.
Write when the conditions are ‘right’.
Write when the conditions are ‘wrong’.
Write, even, when you think you’ve perfected the practice of writing.

Believe it or not, this is easier to do than stopping when things get tough.

If you abandon the practice entirely, it’s harder to get back into the practice (if you’ve ever given up your exercise routine, you’ll know what I mean).

It’s not a fad for 90 days; it’s a habit.

Stretch the muscle.
Exercise the habit.

I had this conversation with a couple of clients this week. There is never the ‘perfect time’ to practice, to sit down at your computer and write. You have to accept that nothing is perfect (Hot Tip 15).

Writing a book takes time; time to chip away at your chapters.

Some days it’s easy; some days it’s shit hard.

But every little thing you do counts towards progress, even if you can’t see it at first.

That’s every scribble on scrap paper, every note on every napkin.

Every second snippet of time between client meetings, keynote presentations, speaking gigs or workshops – it all counts.

Sure, sitting jammed into your car in a multi-storey park on a 32-degree day hashing out your next idea might not sound that glamorous, but it still counts.

In fact, it’s actually valuable time away from your computer, tapping into your creativity.

It all counts.

It all counts towards your practice.

It all counts towards your goal.

British playwright Brian Clark wasn’t lying when he said:

Write.
Write more.
Write even more.
Write even more than that.
Write when you don’t want to.
Write when you do.
Write when you have something to say.
Write when you don’t.
Write every day.
Keep writing.

So keep writing.

Keep practising.

Keep practising, even if it means you have to stand on your toes to do so.

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Kelly Irving

I’m an editor and writing coach with a love for deep-diving into brains and businesses. Through my one-to-one work and online program, I provide an action-by-action process that speeds up the time it takes to produce your best book, and turns overwhelm and self-doubt into momentum and excitement for writing.

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