I guess anyone who considers themselves to be serious about writing have those rationalizations for not getting to the effort of the craft. Some find it more grueling to get to the task than others. With some, this burden is fitful depending on mood and/or the type of distractions. Others don’t seem to have the problem hammering at their doors at all.
I wish I was one of the latter. I know that type of person is rare, but I do believe they exist.
Gathering from what I’ve read throughout the blogosphere, many writers are having more strives with distractions than with anything else. The procrastinations can be easily found in situations such as having to make a “quick” trip to the grocery story before sitting in front of the keyboard or the spiral notebook and pen. Another one is needing a bite to eat before tackling the task. The cop-outs add up, don’t they?
Although I don’t take all the precautions to restrain diversions, I do as many of these tactics as possible without hiding in a hole someplace.
- phone calls: I don’t let the phone go to voice mail. My excuse is the phone sits on the desk where I write. I can’t help but be disturbed by the ring. Why don’t I turn the volume down so I don’t hear it ring? My excuse for that is I don’t know how to do that. Definitely lame, right? Why don’t I buy earplugs? I’m relatively sure I’d feel uncomfortable wearing them. That one is feeble at best seeing that I haven’t tried it yet.
- husband at home: Trying to be a good spouse, I try to make myself available to him when he’s around. If he wants to talk, I figure I should be there to listen. If he needs help with something, I should be available to do what I can. The problem with this excuse is I could assure some time to write when he’s around and not have it be any sort of inconvenience to him just by doing some scheduling.
So is the culprit of my writing evasion really distractions? After taking a realistic evaluation of my situation, I can’t see how the actual distractions are the difficulty.
Jacqui Murphy has written about the space a writer uses to work. Supposing from the photos she’s taken, her workspace is next to perfect. After reading her posts addressing this aspect of the writer’s world, I did an inventory of what I have for my space. It feels way short of what Jacqui has. If I had more shelving… If my desk was wider and deeper… If my printer was better situated so using it would only be an arm’s length away… If I had a larger window for fresh air and a better view… If the workspace was ultimately my own, not having the share with anyone… If I had all that, I’d be a better writer, right? Who am I kidding?
Oh sure, I want all of that. Yet, what I have now is enough so that I can write something, anything worthwhile. I doubt seriously my write dodging has much to do with my physical space.
I’ve read numerous blog posts about getting your butt into the seat. Some writers advocate doing the work no matter what you’d rather be doing. Treat the craft as you would any employment you may have that’s traditional. (I don’t consider writing traditional unless the person is working for someone else.) I can see how this might work, especially if you’re feeling passionate about this job. On the other hand though, if you dread going to work, but do it anyway, is the quality lacking? Depending on how down in the dumps you are about your work, the job could sorely suffer.
I admit it. I have mood swings. As a rule, my swings are so mild people don’t even realize I’ve switched from one to another. Still, my writing is affected by these minor changes in my psychological makeup, but not to the point where I’m tossing written work into the trash or deleting it never to be seen again. However, there are those hefty fluctuations in mood that do happen to me occasionally. The effects of these shifts could have me destroying anything in my path–if I let it. Instead, I walk away and do something meaningless to hopefully clear out the repugnant vibes.
This, I believe, is the felon in my evasions of writing. I’d like to attach the blame to the mood swings themselves, but that’s preposterous. Sure, I should be allowing myself to have these changes in attitude, but I don’t want this self-tolerance to govern my ability to write something decent. Moreover, I don’t think it should.
Handling this affliction is something I usually have to dance through as if I’m on tiptoe playing a game of hopscotch: step lightly on it here, skip over it there, stomp on it hard with both feet at the end, and don’t lose your balance anywhere along the way. The point of the dance is to prevent myself from letting my swinging temperament banish my love of the craft. Sometimes it’s exhausting, sure, but it does work when I put effort into it.
What are your evasions of writing?
My method is to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. – George Bernard Shaw