Four Reasons I Procrastinate (and other forms of writer’s block)
I have had a strong desire to be a writer since I was four. But I’ve found that no matter how inspired, compelled, or motivated I am to write, I will invariably try to avoid sitting down to my keyboard. Why?
Since I work at home, there are always distractions and plenty of legitimate work that needs to be done. I think, I’ll just get these other jobs done first so I can really concentrate on my craft. I had better put that load of clothes on to wash, or sweep the kitchen floor, or start supper, or do a little promotion on Facebook, or, or, or, ad infinitum. But sometimes, my rationalizations verge on the ridiculous like when I find myself wondering if I should get those closets cleaned first, and while I’m at, go ahead and put on a fresh coat of paint. In other words, I’m waiting for the ideal writing environment. Believe me; you can waste years.
Another reason I procrastinate is that Writing is hard work. And who really wants to face that every day? It might not look like it to the guy who builds skyscrapers or the nurse who puts in twelve long hours, but writing is downright hard labor, definitely not the glamorous occupation some might imagine.
Sometimes, I am reluctant to sit down at my computer because I’m not sure what to write next. I should know the solution to this problem. After all, I taught it to my high school creative writing students. But sometimes I have to remind myself that if I just get started, the ideas will begin to flow.
Laurence Stern said, “I write the first sentence and trust in God for the next.” Actually, that would be a good motto to tape to my computer.
But more than all that, my underlying excuse for procrastination is that writing is scary. Why, you ask? It’s scary, because every time you pour yourself into a piece of writing, your personality, your ideals, your hopes and fears, your hang-ups, are hanging out all over.
Thomas Carlyle says, “In every man’s writings, the character of the writer must lie recorded.”
And according to E.B. White, “every writer . . . reveals something of his spirit, his habits, his capacities, his bias . . . Creative writing is communication through revelation—it is the Self escaping into the open. No writer long remains incognito.”
Turning in a piece of writing for a teacher’s evaluation was always a little intimidating, but nothing like knowing my literary babies Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy and Every Hill and Mountain are now out there for anyone’s critique. And so I need a new dose of courage every time.
Fortunately, the compulsion to create usually overcomes all the excuses, and I begin to write again. So, I’m going to get back to working on book three now, right after I tape that motto to my computer and dust the crumbs off the keyboard. Right after lunch. Oh, yeah, and I’ll just go toss that load of towels into the dryer first.
It would be so nice of you to share!