I hate to say it, but I’ve been slacking on my writing lately. Every day I tell myself I’m going to get back on track and (almost) every day I allow myself to get distracted again and before I know it, it’s time for bed.
Is it writer’s block? Or maybe the winter woes? (I mean, I feel like sitting on a sunny beach with a tropical cocktail would be more inspiring than being stuck inside all the time because of the rain.)
Some days I sit rereading a sentence over and over trying to perfect it, or mulling over the order of the chapters. Other days I spend on Pinterest, looking for blog post topics. And then there are the days I hold a pencil in my hand, willing it to magically write down the first line for a short story. I wouldn’t consider any of these super productive uses of my time. They are simply half-hearted attempts at writing, the bare minimum to make me feel like I’m trying.
Last year I decided to treat writing like a job. And right now, I’d probably fire myself. Or at least demote me. I finished a new chapter of my novel yesterday, which should be something to be proud of. But considering it had been a couple of months since my last one, it’s obvious I wasn’t working on it very often.
If I take an honest look at myself, I can’t actually blame writer’s block or the weather (unfortunately). I think the root cause of my lack of production is simple procrastination. Writing is hard work. Editing is hard work. Posting and submitting my stories is mentally hard. Putting it all off for later is easy.
I’ve always been guilty of procrastinating. I would put off schoolwork until the last minute, and prioritize easier tasks at work, delaying the harder things for as long as I could. And even though I always did well in school and got good reviews at work, the stress that procrastinating caused me wasn’t worth it. Same goes for chores at home. I can’t even tell you how many days I wake up saying I’m going to tackle a messy closet or dirty windows and then don’t end up doing it.
But I think there is a way to beat procrastination. I just need to focus on the outcome of a task and how good I feel when I get it done (like finishing that chapter yesterday or having a clutter-free house), rather than the discomfort I may experience in the moment (like when I struggle over some dialogue or have to scrub the shower).
I recently spent a long weekend with family up in the mountains. It snowed almost nonstop for three days. I have never seen so much snow in my life. My husband and father-in-law chose to dig out our trucks halfway through our stay. They could have shrugged it off, saying what’s the point if it’s not going to stop snowing. But they knew it was better to do a little at a time rather than having to shovel ten feet at once.
It’s time for me to adopt that same mindset. Writing a page a day is better than 365 pages in one day (which is pretty much impossible anyway). So no more half-hearted attempts. If I want to get published, I have to put in the work. Now if you’ll excuse me, I better go start my next chapter!