Writers can be difficult people.
They can be bloody difficult to understand and uniquely stubborn to work with. A writer’s stubbornness, at first glance, may appear well-reasoned, but if you press into it or challenge them, things can quickly become convoluted and sticky.
Alas, I love writers. People have accused me of being a writer for quite some time anyway, and the truth is… I like to consider myself one, in fact.
Amidst their nest of convoluted personality quirks, many writers are also truly expert procrastinators.
Writing is a solitary endeavor, so it can be easy at times to avoid doing it.
Writers hem and haw that they have nothing to say. At best they spend a moment at the keyboard before walking away or finding something else to distract themselves.
Discern whether your beliefs are really just an excuse to procrastinate
People seldom embrace their negative personality traits. It’s rare to find a high-achieving person at ease with their tendency to procrastinate.
Instead of embracing these traits or even seeing them at all, we tend to accept the logic that keeps us stuck in loops.
One of the biggest ways people rationalize their procrastination of writing:
“I don’t have anything to say right now.”
OK. Well, that seems reasonable. By that logic, it follows that it would be silly to write. After all, what will come out? How could it be good if there’s nothing to say?
And who wants to read something about nothing?
Perhaps at this point the writer judges that it is downright considerate of them to abstain from writing. By not writing, they are saving anyone the horrible burden of having to read something lousy.
No, they aren’t simply procrastinating. They’re being saintly.
Stuckness isn’t original. Your uniqueness lies beneath and is waiting for you to unlock it
Something interesting can happen if you:
- recognize that you might be procrastinating
- don’t accept the procrastination at face value
- feel beneath your rationalizations. What else is happening for you? What else do you feel?
- get back in touch with what compelled you to write in the first place
For example, many times it happens that a writer will want to write, will even make it so far as their desk, everything prepared and ready to go for another writing session… and then they’ll find themselves stuck, left with no words on the page and only this rationalization to show for it.
It’s silly, because at bottom… they want to. Maybe not every part of their psyche is equally engaged, but some part of them wants to write.
It’s OK if other parts of you resist the writing process. You don’t have to be in complete agreement at all times.
Do this instead: Be a witness to your inner struggle. The struggle is OK. For a few moments, check in with the struggle and see what it has to say. Just don’t let the struggle take any action. You haven’t decided to stop or resume writing. You’re just taking a pause to check in with yourself.
The rationalization that you have nothing to say is probably not even true. You might find yourself claiming this even when in the middle of a project. Maybe a project of a hundred thousand words. Maybe a few hundred words.
Even if there is nothing written yet, it doesn’t matter. The point is that the statement isn’t true. It’s just an assertion and it doesn’t matter.
What matters is your urge to write.
It may be a strong urge and it may be very subtle. Maybe it feels like just a little itch somewhere in the soul.
What matters is that you are in touch with the feeling.
So what if you did it anyway?
What if you simply followed through? What if you let your desire to write lead the way, even when you aren’t sure whether you have anything to say?
In many cases it’s actually better when you don’t have anything to say.
Which is better?
- a bland recitation of a memorized speech
- a spontaneous, reckless heartfelt account
Yep. If you chose the second one, you are correct.
Once you are in touch with the feeling, let yourself write.
People push back at this advice that they don’t want to make themselves write.
But you aren’t forcing anything. You are merely following through on the urge that already spoke to you.
Actually the procrastination is trying to do all the forcing. If you listen to your rationalization and stop yourself, you force yourself to stop writing.
So just let all those feelings be there. Get in touch with your urge to write and then do it.
You’re merely engaging what is actually happening. Flowing with what you actually feel.
The procrastination only offers something you have seen before. Why accept that unoriginality? Why take these lame beliefs at face value and let them live your life?
Not because I made you. Not because you’re forced to, but because you’re choosing to engage the subtle truth — deep down, maybe — that you want to. You have an urge, an itch, a curiosity. A sense of wonder and play, maybe frustration.
Nobody knows yet.
And it takes you to find out.
Don’t worry if you feel like you have nothing to say. Lean into the feeling and see what emerges.
All you have to do is be willing to write when you believe you have nothing to say.
Just do it anyway. Press through that and see what else is there.
I will promise you that there is much more. Rationalizations are only a crust on the surface of the truth that is you.