Whether you are a professional, doing it alongside a day job, or it’s simply a hobby, you write because you feel a compulsion. It’s a passion, a calling, a process that brings you to life and helps you make sense of the world.
But simply loving something doesn’t make it easy to do…
I think Dorothy Parker connected with a deep and collective truth when she said:
I hate writing, I love having written. (Click to Tweet)
It feels good to step back and observe something I have spent my time creating and crafting.
It’s a wonderful feeling to have written in large part because writing is not easy. The doubts, confusion, and endless potential can make for an overwhelming foundation from which to start each time.
We bring a lot of baggage to the table, which can make us forget that although it’s not easy, writing IS quite simple…You just have to start.
Only, it’s the starting that hurts isn’t it?
We get distracted and convince ourselves of reasons why we are not quite ready to do the work.
But if we are going to get to that beautiful place at the end of the day; the happy land of ‘Having Written’, we must recognise the road blocks we put in our own way.
There are many things that stop me from starting. Here are just seven of them:
1) Reading ABOUT Writing
I spend a lot of time reading motivational blog posts and books about creativity and ‘doing the work’. So much time in fact that it became an evident irony when every time I sat down to write I picked up The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, You are a Writer by Jeff Goins, or Writer’s Doubt by Bryan Hutchinson.
I was inspired, but remained completely passive and creatively paralysed. So I had to ration my consumption of these materials. I don’t look at my RSS feed, social networks, or email updates until I’ve written for at least an hour (usually two) each morning.
2) Obsessing Over Routine
I also fall prey to Routine Envy. I love to read about the daily routines of my heroes, and spend a lot of time pondering ways to imitate them. Or at least I did, until I had a conversation with someone who was thinking of emulating MINE. It seemed ridiculous and at that point I realised that no one has the perfect routine; we all just experiment with how we mix what we want to do with the time we have available to do it.
Find your rhythm and patterns that work for you, but don’t stress about it and don’t obsess over getting it perfect. You never will. Just decide what you want to do (write) and unearth time every day to do it.
3) Comparing Yourself to Others
Do you ever look with envy through the lens of social media at the lives of others who appear to be doing what you want to be doing?
Again, you learn an important lesson when you realise there are people looking at you in exactly the same way. We are all muddling along, learning, and making things up as we go along.
We all have messy and confusing insides that we compare with the outward projections of others.
4) Developing Strategic Quick Fixes
Another thing I tend to do when I sit down to write is to search for quicker ways to acheive results. Formulas, outlines, and paint by numbers solutions to writing. And judging by Google’s most searched for terms many people are on the look out for similar things.
Structure is obviously extremely useful when it comes to writing but again I find my search for quicker ways to work can distract me from actually doing the writing. If you want to work with an outline then develop a very simple one and commit to sticking with it for a while.
5) Feeling Sorry for Yourself
There are times when I don’t start writing because I’m doing nothing other than feeling sorry for myself, doubting every choice I’ve ever made and wondering what the hell I’m thinking trying to write words for people to read. These are the moments I allow every critical thing anyone has ever said to enter my mind and the doubts to niggle me to a place of inaction.
I have a specific mailbox where I put encouraging emails from people who have experienced transformation because of a message I happened to pen. When I feel tempted to stop writing because I want to wallow in my own self-doubt I remind myself of the bigger picture. My work is not about me and my self-pity or self-indulgence.
Staring at an Empty Screen with an Empty Head (go do something that will fill you back up)
Some days we are just empty. I find there are times when I need to step away from the screen and do something that nourishes my soul and fills you back up. Otherwise I resent my creative process and have nothing left to give.
Identify the difference between your emptiness and your fear-fuelled block.
6) Researching Yourself into Oblivion
Do you ever think to yourself, ‘I’ll be ready to write once I know what I’m talking about’, and then proceed to lose yourself in articles, videos, and books about the subject you want to write on? I often find myself so overwhelmed that I completely lose perspective of what I set out to create initially.
Focus Focus Focus.
7) Waiting for Inspiration to Strike
This is an obvious one and to some extent it encapsulates procrastination in a nutshell. As a writer who takes the craft seriously you must turn pro in your mind before you turn pro in your ‘reality’.
For me the biggest difference between the pro mindset and the mind of an amateur is in our relationship with inspiration. The amateur creates when they’re inspired, the pro goes to work in order to get inspired.
In other words…they start.
‘Having Written’ is a great feeling. It’s a beautiful destination. But if you don’t actually step off the platform you will never get there, however much it looks to others and yourself like your intention is to catch the train. No writer feels adequate, ready, or distraction-free enough to start. Yet we must.
After all, we’re writers because we write…right?
Over to You
Do you recognise any of these habits from your own life? How do you make the shift from procrastination to the point at which you say yes and make the simple decision to write?
Share in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!
This post is by Positive Writer contributor Andy Mort.