One of my goals for 2014 is to write a book. In one year. Not like those crazy Nanowrimo overachievers, whose goal is to write a novel in one month. No, no, I’m giving my self a whole year. But we’re more than halfway through January already and I don’t have much of anything to show for it. And today looks like the seventh day of a pretty fabulous writer’s block.
I am trying to trust that the creative stream will offer me something if I just dip my bucket in, but I am skeptical. I think there may have been a drought, as my bucket keeps coming up empty. Nonetheless, I have assumed the writing position. I am putting my fingertips to my keyboard. I am typing.
I am typing mostly boring drivel, as you can see, but at least it’s SOMETHING.
I have a cold. And I think this is part of the problem. My head feels like it’s grown into a size Extra Large, my ears and nose are plugged up, and my eyes are tired and squinty. I’m like some alien creature from Star Trek with a huge, meaty head and itty bitty eye, ear, and nose holes.
In this state, my creativity, which I usually imagine as a fluid, flowing thing, is mired down in snot and swollen sinuses, struggling to break free and swim on up to my consciousness. Come on, dude – put your back into it!
I am typing in my pajamas.
I know, I know. The common stereotype of a writer is that we’re lazy and can’t be bothered to pull ourselves together in the morning before we start our day of “work.” In fact, as everyone knows, the whole reason we choose to write is that it’s a profession that allows us to maintain our naturally sloth-like, bed-ridden lifestyle.
However, as anyone who knows me can attest, that stereotype doesn’t really fit me. I am actually an obsessive, card-carrying, neatnik who would very much prefer to wash my face, brush my teeth and get dressed before I sit down to write. Truly. I feel exactly as lazy and worthless as you imagine I am as I sit here in my flowered flannel pjs, oversized robe and fluffy slippers, unwashed and uncoiffed.
The problem is, so spectacular is my ability to procrastinate, that once I start a few morning ablutions, I can’t stop.
So, sure, I might enter my bedroom intending to just throw on some clothes, but once I’m there I decide to splash my face with water to help me wake up. Then, since I am already at my sink, I go from washing my face to using my Neti pot.
Once my face and sinuses are clean, I notice my teeth are not, and so I brush them. I also take my vitamins. Then I get finally get dressed, and as I am getting dressed I notice my dog standing by expectantly, hoping it is time for our morning walk and, feeling guilty, I take her out.
After walking the dog, I notice I’ve already got my heartbeat up, and so decide I may as well go ahead and take my morning turn on the elliptical. Then I’m so sweaty I decide I’ll go ahead and take my shower.
SEE HOW IT IS? If I give myself any wiggle room at all, if I allow myself any time to prepare to write, to set up for the activity, I will not actually write. In fact, I will do absolutely ANYTHING other than the hard, boring task of sitting in my chair waiting for inspiration. And before you know it, it’s time for me to go into the office (to do the work that actually pays the mortgage) and I haven’t written a thing. And if I don’t change my ways, it’s wash, rinse, repeat, for the rest of the year.
It’s like an adult-themed “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.”
So, for me, the moral is that, once I’ve decided something is important to do, I just need to DO it, Nike style. If I wait until everything is prepared, until I’m all set up, it’s highly likely that I’ll never actually start. I have to just sit my butt in the chair and write. I have to just go.
So here I sit, in my pajamas, robe and fluffy slippers, hair unwashed, teeth unbrushed and my nose full of snot. My dog sits on her bed beside me, thinking wistful thoughts about the walk we are not having but will hopefully get to later. I have assumed the writing position. I have put fingertips to keyboard keys and, ready or not, I am typing.
I strongly encourage you to take a similar stance. January is almost over, people, and we only have eleven short months left to accomplish our goals. The teeth, the house, the errands, the dog – they can all wait. That goal you deemed important enough to make a resolution quite simply cannot.
Ready or not, just GO.
What about you? What goal are you setting up for, preparing for, but just not doing? Tell us about it in a comment below and then, ready or not, go do it!
And, if this post got you thinking, you might also like Roadside Assistance for Resolutions Breakdowns or This Isn’t It (Or Is It?).
I felt like I was reading the beginning of a book when I hit the procrastination explanation portion of your post.
Hmm . . . Interesting . . . Maybe I should consider that format.
I am proud of you for writing SOMETHING, head full of snot or not. I understand. I set out to write a book every November and by January, I lose all excitement by getting lost in the “Who would bother to publish a book about….” and the typical seasonal affective disorder or winter blues.
I have accomplished many things considering, but getting that book done didn’t seem like it was ever going to be one of them. I finished a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Accounting. It took me 14 years for that four year degree, but I did it. And I prepared sermons and classes and did Bible study. But for me, I had to treat it like a job. I did all of those things sitting in a booth at the local Waffle House, where I have been a regular for 18 years now. I have done everything there from peer mentoring to making crafts for the Christmas fair. I get up, get showered, dressed, brushed, and put my face on. Then, I load up the project d’jour and head to WH. I sit inconspicuously in a corner, not taking up too much space. The waitresses know that I do not need attention other than a refill on my tea, which is noticeable by the fact that I remove my straw.
Some days I sit there for 6-8 hours. Other days, it may be an hour or less. But, I always get up and go have my WH time. If I can’t write, I pray. If I can’t pray, I read or listen to Scripture. If I can’t do any of the above, I just observe the present: the cars outside, the flag that flies outside of the gas station to welcome people to our military community, the way the employees interact with each other. It is as I’ve read from your blog, one of my “snow days”.
I did get around to writing (and finishing, because that’s the important part) the book. It only took four months! Good luck in all of your writing endeavors. And my two cents: write the hardest thing first. Don’t worry about the order, or the title, or the audience, or whether Oprah will choose you for the Book Club. Just write. 😉
Thank you, thank you, Patricia, for your encouraging comment above. I still haven’t written the book, but I have written a lot of somethings, and I still have the “write the book” goal on my todo list. It’s good to know there are others out there hitting the same bumps as me as we traverse this path. And I appreciate the glimpse into your writing life/discipline . . . I’m thinking maybe I need to pack up my laptop and head down the local coffee shop.