This post, by Dawn Goldberg, originally appeared on her Write Well Me blog.
No matter how much we want and love to write, unless we’re terribly disciplined or have deadlines (or an editor/agent looming over us), our default activity is not writing. In other words, if we have a spare minute, a break between activities, the rare gift of an unplanned hour, do we write? Or do we fill it in with stuff that "needs to be done"? Or take a much-needed nap? Or call a girlfriend and relax? Or make plans for dinner?
I will write – after I take a shower and get dressed – and after I make the bed – and after I do the dishes.
Why do I delay? Why do those things come before writing?
For one, those other things are calling at my attention, nagging me, so I tell myself that I’ll write better if those nags are quieted. But the list of nags must be quite long because there are a lot of times that I never seem to write.
Secondly, I might be afraid of writing. I’m not where I want to be in my project. It’s stalled. I want it to be perfect, compelling, and impactful, and I’m afraid it’s not. Or it feels hard to get started, so it’s much easier to do other things.
And – here’s what I’m afraid of the most – maybe I don’t want to write badly enough more than I want to take a shower, get dressed, make the bed, and do the dishes.
When I was teenager in Texas, I’d get up in the summer early and go run. The heat, no matter how early in the morning, was oppressive. Step outside, and one hits a wall of heat. Yet, I’d invariably get up and go run in that awful furnace. Why? Because I’d rather do that than deal with my parents when they got up in the morning. Running in the heat was preferable to being around my parents. I would rather run.
So what do we need to create so that writing IS the default activity and it is THE thing we would rather do than anything else?
1. Be aware of what DOES get in the way. Pay attention. Are they always the same things (chores like cleaning the house, work tasks like returning emails, etc.) that you do instead of writing?
2. Understand why you would rather do those things. Are they nagging items? Are they delaying tactics? Are you afraid of something?