I’m going for consistency here so I’m at the keyboard once again though I’m not sure what it is I’m going to share. Today was not as stellar a writing day as Monday was, but I’m starting to get a little more perspective on the reality of what procrastination is all about. I have always believed that procrastination is fear. Along that vein, I have identified some fears I let prevent me from writing, but this hasn’t been an entirely successful strategy. Awareness of what stops you from doing something you love does not automatically set you on the track to pursuing your passion wholeheartedly.
Among the dozen or so books that I am in the process of reading is Heather Sellers’ Page after Page – Discovering the Confidence & Passion You Need to Start Writing and Keep Writing (No Matter What!) She points out the common resistance we have to beginning anything new. Instead of focusing on the reality that we will spend much time alone just writing and writing, we resist the very thing we want to do by deciding that the whole experience is ‘not what we expected it to be’ or by saying ‘this was not what I wanted.’
Pen, paper, and desire is all you need to write. Not the right space or time or materials. Just sit down and do it and don’t stop. Realize that you are going to be alone – a lot. This is a tough spot for me. I like people. I am drawn to people. I’m not incredibly outgoing, but I enjoy people even if it’s simply via Facebook, Twitter, or email. I crave connection. Ironically, I feel the same way about my words. I want to be with them, to know them intimately, create ideas and place with them and that’s difficult to do with the distraction of people.
Sellers suggests that the writer’s life should be filled with other writers (I’ve only gotten involved in a writing group about a year ago), multitudes of books (got that one covered!), discussions of books (working on that one), and an obsessive desire to carve out a portion of time each day to release the words we have locked inside us. This, of course is the hardest part – making time to write. I’m a very deadline-driven person, but also an excellent procrastinator who has always believed that I do my best work right before it is due. Granted I can produce writing quickly, but I’m old enough now to know that writing needs time to be created, simmered, and revised to be worthwhile.
Acknowledging that your writing is valuable enough to make time for is the first issue particularly if writing is not your main profession. How can I say that I didn’t have a chance to grade homework, do laundry, or make dinner if my priority is supposed to be home schooling and taking care of the house? Raising the status of your art above ‘hobby’ level is as much about self-esteem as it is about respecting your work itself.
So now, whether I’m writing a press release or a chapter of my latest manuscript, I try to give my creativity the time it deserves instead of shoving the task into my schedule when I can grab a few minutes. My writing matters now regardless of whether I’m making a living at it yet. If you can’t reach this point as a writer when it’s a part-time thing, how will your art be important as a full-time venture? I’m thinking I would still be surviving on that last-minute attack-the-project mode letting the busy-ness of life give false meaning to my day rather than filling my day with my passion.