Why is writing so hard? Or I guess a better question is why do we procrastinate it so much?! I recently read an article that explained a little about why so many writers procrastinate and while it ended in talking about the problems with millennials, the first part was pretty good and made a lot of sense.
The article spoke about a sense of fear, specifically imposter syndrome. Writers, it can typically be assumed, are likely your “A” English students in high school. The kid who breezes through class and wonders why others find it so difficult as they plunk out a 1,000-word story or essay the night before it’s due and get an easy A. They did well with little effort but enter the real world (maybe college or a job) and you’re up against a ton of other writers who were all that same student. Meaning we’re no longer top of the list, we’re all the same. It’s no longer a breeze, because we’re competing against so many “A” English students. That puts us in to a position of feeling like maybe we’re an imposter.
We compare ourselves to other writers, more specifically to writers who are already established, already published, and already winning awards. We sink ourselves into this mindset that everyone else knows what they are doing, and we have no idea. That fear impedes us from writing, it sets us dithering in front of a blank page and leaves us browsing the web for “how to write” and other quirky writing articles.
The article that I read spoke about how imposter syndrome prevents us from writing and leaves us procrastinating and what finally gets a writer writing is an often a deadline. The only reason that works is because the fear of not handing something in out weighs the fear of a blank page.
Which is great, but what if you don’t have a hard-set deadline?
For me, no matter how many deadlines I set for myself I just can’t stick to them. I laugh at myself and say “Silly me, that’s not a real deadline, nothing bad will happen”. One writing group I saw online tackles this by actually making it real. They write a cheque for so much money, put it in an envelope for a charity they dislike and tell their friend to mail it if they fail to meet a certain deadline.
I don’t know if this would work for me! Maybe, but I’d still leave everything right up until the very last minute. So I’m curious… how do you handle procrastination? Or what sort of quirks to do you have to motivate you? Do you have any writing habits you must perform in order to write? As I type this I have the looming end of month deadline for the short story project Tara and I have started. Just so you all know, I haven’t started it yet! I keep feeling like I don’t know how to write a short story – but that’s silly because I do know how, I’m just worried about starting and afraid it won’t be good enough! If I figure out any tricks to get past this I’ll let you know!
Overall I guess what you can take away from this thoughtful ramble is I guarantee you almost every writer out there feels the same. We all go through it. So know that you’re not alone! We’ll all muddle our way through this together!
Good luck writing,