Procrastination

Pressfield

Writers are often faced with great resistance, otherwise known as procrastination. For me, there is a feeling within that I must write, yet when I sit down at the keyboard suddenly I’m checking email, Facebook and Pinterest before I click to open my manuscript. I learned from watching an interview with Steven Pressfield on Super Soul Sunday that what I’m feeling is resistance and when the pain of resistance becomes greater than the pain of facing a blank page then I’ll get to work. It’s like when I was little and learning how to dive.  I would stand on the edge of the diving board for a loooong time staring at the water – afraid. Sometimes I would give up and jump in from the pool’s edge but then I’d find myself right back up on the board, toes dangling, head down, arms out in front of me. Finally, I would dive in and feel the excitement of having overcome my fear. Every summer I would feel the same resistance. As long as I didn’t let it stop me, I’d experience the exhilaration of having overcome my fear and accomplishing my goal.

A while back I listened to an author speak to a group of writers. He said that it’s important to treat writing like a regular job. It’s important to behave like any other professional, even though our commute to work is often a stroll down the hall in our PJ’s carrying a cup of coffee. Then, when he was asked how long it takes him to write a novel he said he checks into a hotel and writes it in about two weeks. This confused me. I understood the concept of wanting complete isolation to create. Hotels provide an escape from  responsibilities and allow for uninterrupted reflection which can help writers tap into emotions that may be hidden when they’re amongst family (not that I would know anything about that after having just stayed in a hotel for the YBB workshop…wink,wink). While working this way may be beneficial to this particular author I knew it was not for me.

I contrasted the author’s view of creating with another speaker I recently listened to. He is an illustrator and he gave a fascinating talk about his life as an artist. It was obvious that his art was a part of him and he worked at it daily – except he didn’t see it as work but as joy. A woman on the panel with him commented that as the rest of the panel was having wine and appetizers, he was outside in the garden sketching. I’m sure he’s felt the resistance of creating but he’s weaved his art into his life, so it’s not just a habit but it’s a part of who he is.

Since I gave up teaching full-time to write, my battle has been having the discipline to use my time effectively to keep life balanced. By balanced I mean, writing, household responsibilities, exercise, and quality time with family and friends. I also substitute teach throughout the month because I enjoy being in the classroom and talking with students. It didn’t take long before I realized how challenging keeping balanced can be especially when I’m faced with a resistance to doing the very thing I know I’m meant to do. Eventually, my husband Eric and I worked out a system. If he comes home and the house is immaculate he knows not to ask the question, “Was it a good writing day?” A clean house meant terrible writing and it was in his best interest not to bring it up. However, if the house was messy, and better yet if there were dishes in the sink, then by all means ask the question. The balance was tipped towards writing. This goal of keeping balance is still a work in progress. I can say the peace I feel after I’ve written for hours can easily carry me through a day even when household chores are left undone. It never works in reverse. Writing equals peace.

I strive to create like the illustrator I listened to. Writing must be a part of my daily life, which includes weekends. There’s no way I could or would ever want to put up with the pain of resistance from saving a story and not working on it fully until I was locked away in a hotel room. I’m not saying it’s a bad way to work, everyone must create in their own way. I just couldn’t do it because there is such a joy I receive from writing my stories and learning about my characters. Is it difficult to get started some days? Absolutely! If you catch me on Facebook and it’s before noon feel free to tell me to return to my manuscript. Sometimes I sit at my keyboard staring at the blank page, like I once stared at the glistening water from the edge of the diving board. When I dive in it’s exhilarating….as life should be.

Steven Pressfield on Finding Your Calling: “Put Your A** Where Your Heart Wants to Be”

To move forward in life and become who we are meant to be, we have to pursue our callings with gusto. While that can often seem like an insurmountable task, author Steven Pressfield says just sitting down and getting started on your dream, no matter how small the task, will work wonders. Hear his simple—and direct—piece of advice. ~From Super Soul Sunday

To see more slides of Steven Pressfield quotes like the one above: Click Here!

 

 


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