“Writing is 90% procrastination. It is a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.” ~ Paul Rudnick
Awhile back I stumbled onto a quick fix that works quite well. You’ve likely heard of it, but have you applied it?
Lower your standards and keep going.
If writing is about ego gratification you may be squirming at the prospect. Who wants to write sh*t for the sake of pen to paper?
I do, because I’ve learned that writing as practice and process is the foundation of quality writing.
So start scribbling shite on your pages, dear friends. Eventually you’ll polish some of those turds and find yourself with something pretty great.
Or you could do laundry, listen to music, reorganize the cupboards, read news, and all the while imagine what a great writer you’ll be… someday… when you finally start writing.
A writer writes. An egotist fantasises about the life of writing.
Which will you be?
Related post on procrastination
A fabulous article by Megan McArdle drills down into the psychological warfare writers endure before putting pen to paper. The fear of writing something poorly is one of the biggest reasons we delay, until the fear of producing nothing at all wins out and we finally settle into work.
Steven Furtick says, “The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” Guilty as charged.
When I’m struggling with a clunky piece, I’m comparing it with the polished quality of my published works, and with the genius of other completed works. So to help get over my impostor syndrome I’ve been learning to love the dirty process, independent of the quality or accolades that may follow. When I write for the love of the struggle, the fear of whether a piece will be any good becomes secondary.
Of course this struggle with insecurity isn’t unique to writers. I’m curious, how do you deal with procrastination?
I’m curious to know how much of what’s written here on WordPress is raw truth, stylized truth, or imagined truth. Where do you draw the line when you write? I suspect we tell ourselves that readers simply wouldn’t be interested in hearing about how we’re sitting under bed covers at 3pm in the afternoon, un-showered and un-imaginative. But is it really censorship for their sake, or for ours?
Writing the raw truth exposes us to ridicule. Perhaps even the act of writing it warrants enough shame to hit the delete button.
I find myself visualizing the noble reader, scanning through blogs to find unvarnished life narratives. And then as I’m skimming through Freshly Pressed, I find myself drawn to the personal stories with reality edges sanded smooth. Ha! To what extent they’re stylized or imagined, I can’t tell. But maybe we’re all hunched in an ugly pose looking for pretty lenses through which we can kindly view ourselves.