Get Started, Stay Focused

16 April, 2018

As a writer, I face challenges each time I even think about sitting down at my computer to create. My biggest challenge is procrastination. I tend to find everything else to do first before I give myself permission to take time for myself.

For instance, the dogs need to be walked, the laundry done, the kitchen cleaned – all those take priority over my “me” time. For some reason they all seem to be more important than doing what I want to be doing ever since I was a child. I talk myself into thinking I need things before I can write. I need complete quiet, I need a full belly, I need the house to be cleaned, or I need a nap so I can feel refreshed.

When people ask me, “How is your book coming along?” I cringe. I make excuses. “Oh, it’s coming,” I say, “but I’ve been busy with work, then I was sick for a couple of weeks.” I kick myself for even telling anyone that I was attempting to write my first novel, because now I have to be accountable. I’ve started projects before without finishing them and have a plethora of justifiable excuses as to why they were never completed.

I worry my story won’t be good. I am afraid I will stare at the computer screen and my mind will go blank. I’m terrified that I will never finish what I’ve started. I am concerned my reader won’t be able to picture in their mind what I’m trying to portray – that my story is not detailed enough and my characters are uninteresting.

But here’s the thing – those things were never really important to me. Those projects were keeping me occupied at that moment because I was bored. Being a writer is different. It’s what my soul is telling me to do. My own mind haunts me with new stories and characters as I try to sleep at night. A change in plotline surprises me in the middle of a conversation with a work client. My laptop stares at me with googly eyes in my dreams and asks me where I’ve been. Just the thought of writing consumes me on a daily basis.

So what’s the solution? Stop the lying B.S. and write. I write at least a sentence a day. To be honest, I’ve only had probably two days in the last three months when I’ve only ended up writing one sentence. I can put my thoughts down in my journal before bed, or on my tablet as I sit and watch television. I give myself permission to write an imperfect story, spelling and grammar mistakes included. I have decided it is perfectly fine if someone doesn’t like what I write, because inevitably somebody won’t.

Now, I close my door so I can’t hear the noise and see the messy kitchen. I put my story down on paper and I go back after it’s done and fill in the blanks. I add the details to create the pictures in the reader’s mind. I read my own story as if I was a stranger to it, and make it better. I let myself be excited about writing instead of stressed out. Then, when I have finished a chapter, I feel like a super hero. Today, I have defeated my arch enemy once again. Procrastination is a daily battle, but I feel like I’m finally winning the war. It turns out, all I actually needed was my cape.

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