Alright, let’s get real.
Writing is either the easiest thing or the hardest.
Either you’re sitting at your computer and your fingers are flying over the keys in a cacophony of clacking as ideas literally pour from your brain onto the screen.
Or you’re staring at said screen, as it taunts you with its blankness, the blinking cursor little more than a bully chiding you with an incessant “neener neener.”
Or worse… you don’t even approach the blank screen. If it’s a bully, then you’re a scared kid, faking a temperature to stay home from school.
In other words: You fall victim to distractions. Because sometimes it’s easier to do something else (read: blame something else) than it is to actually write.
Fellow writers–we’re all guilty of it. Some more than others. This last week… me more than most.
So, like I said. Let’s get real. You can’t grow if you don’t recognize what stands in your way… and sometimes that obstacle is yourself.
These are five of my biggest obstacles. Anyone on there share these? Or do you have some special distractions of your own?
Here we go:
Pros: Who doesn’t love a nap? They’re recharging. They’re relaxing. They’re a great way to beat stress. And maybe you’ll even have a dream that will inspire the next bestseller.
Con: Once you lay down, the pillows and blankets claim you as their own. You cannot leave, even after the alarm goes off and you’ve hit snooze three times, because if you desert them, you may lose their trust. Also, you never actually write down your dreams, so….
(4) To-Do Lists
Pro: Life is busy. Lists make the stress manageable, because, if you write it down, then you don’t have to worry about remembering the billion things you have to do. Also, being an adult is hard: Cleaning, working, paying bills, keeping up with friends and family, exercising, eating right…. All of that plus you still want to write! Making a to-do list can help ensure that you carve out the time you need to get creative.
Con: Huh… how did writing end up at number 75? Is rearranging my desk drawer really more important than that? Oh well, if that’s the list….
Pro: To quote Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
Con: One more chapter. *Two hours later* Okay, for real, this is the last chapter for today. *Two hours later* I’m almost done, might as well finish…. *Two hours later* Wow, what a great book… wait there’s a sequel?!
(2) The Notorious Inner Editor
Pro: All those years of English classes will help make your writing succinct, clear, and grammatically correct.
Con: This sentence I just wrote sucks. *Delete* Ugh, that’s not any better! *Delete* That’s cliche… and I ended with a preposition! *Delete, then more typing, then more deleting.* I’ve been at this for an hour and barely have a paragraph!!!
Pro: Um… huh… skip?
Con: What if my writing isn’t any good? Just because I like it doesn’t mean other people will, too. What if the idea is stupid? What if people get upset at some the themes? What if…
How ironic that the two favorite words of any author–the little phrase that kick-starts every story–is also capable of holding us back.
It is both fuel for creative fire and the water that drowns it.
But here’s the thing to remember: We are in control of the “What Ifs.” We can decide whether they weigh us down (“What if I never get published….?) or inspire us (“What if this turns out to be a bestseller!”)
Never forget we have so much control over our own lives. It’s easy to think that we don’t, especially during stressful times. But there are things we can decide, actions that we can take, that determine our future.
Even if it’s just something as simple as actually getting out of bed when the alarm goes off and forgoing the snooze button.
Of course, some things are harder–namely silencing the naysayers in your own head.
No one ever say writing was always going to be easy. But when it is… what if you’re in the process of writing someone’s new favorite book?
So keep writing! And when those distractions come… maybe really only read just one more chapter. (Or two… but that’s it!)