Procrastination is probably the curse of writers. It’s one thing to procrastinate about everyday life, things like cleaning windows and housework, but I don’t think anyone ever got to their death-bed regretting not having done enough housework.
WHAT WILL YOU REGRET ON YOUR DEATH-BED?
Death-bed regrets are surely more about bigger things, like not having spent enough time with children, not learning to play the piano, or not having written that book – the one you always said you had in you.
Death bed regrets are about the commitments we avoided and the procrastination that stopped us.
THE ELUSIVE BURST OF CREATIVITY
I have talked to many writers who said that they enjoyed a frenetic burst of creativity, and in that burst succeeded in writing every waking minute for a few weeks. But, then they stopped. The time was never right again.
ONCE IN A FULL MOON.
This is because bursts of writing don’t get that project finished. They may just encourage procrastination by reinforcing the idea that you can only write when the muse arrives, or when the moon is full, or when some other ‘perfect time for writing’ happens to come along.
But it doesn’t work like that. If you want to become a professional writer then you need to act like one. That means not waiting for the perfect time. It means writing frequently – showing up at the page.
WHERE TO START?
In the beginning, it’s best to schedule shorter periods of writing. That way you learn how to make writing an important part of your life. Like brushing your teeth, only better of course.
Writing for ten or fifteen minutes per day will yield more tangible results than that once yearly two-week all intensive session, because it teaches you patience.
If you are in the early stages and are not yet committed to a particular project then try doing a different creative writing exercise, or prompt, for fifteen minutes every day for two weeks.
If you do this I can guarantee that among those half-formed stories and stunted paragraphs you will find the right story for you. To get you going you can find some exercises here.
Patience is a virtue when it comes to most things, but even more so in writing. It takes a great deal of patience to build a story – word by word, page by page.
We all want to have written, but the act of writing regularly, commitment in other words, is what will separate you from the want-to-haves.
Commitment doesn’t arrive like a muse but it can be learned.
If you write for short periods five, or six days a week you will be learning commitment every time you write.
It might take a few weeks, or even months to install this habit and rewire your brain but if you do, you will find writing becomes as necessary to you as brushing your teeth and you’ll never have to wait for that muse again.
Best of luck with your writing.
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