Happy new year, sexies! As Kirsten Hallie Krum sagely pointed out on Monday, the holidays are fun but enough already. There’s only so much white chocolate peppermint bark, sparkly clothes, and confusion over what to wish people that we can take. Now it’s time to move on and get cracking. Dust off that writing project. Submit that manuscript. And for pete’s sake, post something new on your website.
With the old year’s bags packed and the new year just getting settled in, we feel refreshed and invigorated. We’re determined to finish that novel, quit smoking, get a new job, and lose ten pounds. In theory, it all sounds great. New year, new leaf. But then …
Well, but then reality sets in. Doing those things requires work. Honest-to-goodness, not-necessarily-fun, this-might-take-a-long-time work. And then, well, then we quick as a bunny find excuses to procrastinate.
Here’s a familiar scenario: I’m going to start writing. I turn on my computer. Oh, but then I realize I can’t write without coffee. I get up to make the coffee, and my cats start meowing because I haven’t given them their treats, so then I do that. Having to pet them is also required. OK, so that’s done. Now I make the coffee. While it’s brewing I could be efficient and go to the bathroom so I won’t have to interrupt myself for that once I get going. Good strategy, right?
But while I’m in the bathroom I happen to glance at myself in the scream-inducing super ultra magnifying mirror and realize – to my horror – that my pores are absolutely HUGE! OMG, I had no idea. Well, there’s NO WAY I can go on writing with these jumbo craters planted on my face. Something must be done. Where’s my astringent?
Whew. Dodged a bullet there. OK, so now I can finally sit down to write. Shit, but I forgot my coffee. I return to the kitchen, pour the java. Hmmm. Is that my stomach growling … ?
And so on. You get the drift, and I would guess have probably had your own variation on the theme. Suddenly things that I’ve let fester for ages become hellishly important to be done RIGHT NOW. Anything, apparently, instead of writing. ‘Cause writing, you know, as much as we love it, is a f**k ton of work. At the New Jersey Romance Writer’s conference I attended last fall, one of the panel speakers (alas, I can’t recall who it was) said she didn’t really like writing so much as she liked having written. To that I can completely relate. When I actually do get down to writing, and then later come back to it and read over what I’ve done, it’s an immensely satisfying feeling. Even if I dramatically change what I’ve written or ultimately decide I can’t use it in my book, the fact that I strapped down and put words on the page is deeply rewarding. So why do I keep putting it off?
Clinical Psychologist Lisa Juliano, who specializes in working with artists, writes in PsychologyToday.com that putting off certain routine tasks may happen because of how we identify with those tasks. They may be conventional, routine, or ordinary, which is exactly the opposite of the way we see ourselves. We artists, especially, are free-spirited, non-traditional, and certainly unconventional. We’re far from ordinary so why would we find ourselves doing ordinary things?
I guess that’s one theory. For me, however, procrastination with writing is simply the delaying of that which is hard. Staring at my pores, petting my cats and making coffee are all routine tasks (well, maybe not so much the pore thing, thank goodness), which I’m perfectly happy to do. Anything that gives me respite from the hard grind of writing is fair game.
In the end, however, once I finally do get my butt in the chair and start writing, the reward at the end of the tunnel, the feeling of having created something of which I’m personally proud, is unmatched by any amount of routine delayers. So in 2016, I may still have giant pores, but I’ll also have the creation of stories under my belt about which I can feel good. Rock on, writers.