Okay. You finally come to that blessed moment when the kids are asleep, homework’s done, the boss is away, or maybe it’s just those hours of the wee morning or late night that you’ve set aside for that wondrous thing called writing.
You tap into your caffeine source of choice, pull out the laptop and…
What’s the problem? All day and maybe all night and maybe all week you’ve been thinking about your story. Running scenes through your head like the director of a play or a movie. You’ve been yearning for this moment to get here and now…It’s so hard!
For years I’ve struggled with this question. I’ve struggled with finding ways to stop wasting time watching dog videos and sharing recipes and basically realizing, too late, that most of my writing time has slipped through my fingers like the bathwater in a compilation of “dogs bathing” videos. (Yes, that’s a thing. Please don’t judge.)
Writers need to write. Writers have to write, but getting started, actually pulling up the document and filling your screen with your words can be so tough.
We’ve all heard various reasons as to why writers procrastinate. Lack of conviction in whether or not we’re working on the right project. Maybe it’s thinking about all the things we should be doing like cleaning out that garage or the closet or folding laundry or maybe fixing something healthier than Pizza Rolls for dinner.
Mostly, I believed it was self-doubt. What made me think that I could write anything worth reading?
Then I realized something. I realized that maybe, just maybe, the reason why getting started is so difficult has nothing to do with our insecurities and doubts.
Imagine that you’re about to start writing. It’s so tough that you abandon ship and decide to, instead, clean out that closet. Yeah, closets can be daunting, but imagine instead of ‘cleaning’ the closet, you have to transport yourself, mentally, into it. And not into an ordinary closet either. You have to transport yourself into a closet that has, in its small, cluttered space, a world – complete with characters and conflict and emotions. Not only do you have to transport yourself into that world, you have to create it too!
Is it any wonder why we procrastinate? It’s hard. Taking our minds, our imaginations somewhere else, creating a whole world and all the intricacies that exist there, not to mention characters with rich backstories and conflicted futures. No wonder cleaning the closet doesn’t seem so bad in comparison.
Over the years I’ve tried different ways of dealing with my procrastinating issue. One thing that’s been helpful is having a set time for ‘writing’ and a different set time for ‘social media’. In today’s world, marketing through social media is a must, but it’s easy to lose writing time because we get sucked into signing petitions and clicking on that email that says Your old high school classmates are looking for you!
Currently, I’m adding another strategy.
What if…there are forces in the world trying to stop writers from creating our alternate realities – our worlds filled with conflict and love and nanobots and all the various things born in our imaginations? What if, every time we click on a cute cat video, we’re falling into a trap set by some dark, anti-creative force? The ANTI-WRITER! (I call him Damien for short).
Okay, this may be a bit of a dramatic tactic, but hey, whatever works.
The world needs more creativity, more stories. So how do you fight off the forces that try to keep words from the page? What works for you? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the reply box. We’re all in this together!