I used to write when I felt like writing. All writers say you’re not supposed to do that, but this was when I first realized I loved it, so I’d write every day, for no shorter than an hour, and sometimes for up to five hours.
When an idea for a scene popped up, I’d pause what I was doing — even if I was writing another scene for the same story — and write it down. If it was the first thing I wanted to do in the morning or the last thing I wanted to do at night, I’d do it. No excuses. It was innocent passion and pure bliss.
Then, that changed. While I still loved writing, and I’d do it every day, I didn’t always feel like doing it. Now and then, I’d have to force myself to grab my iPad, sit on the couch, and type something. Sometimes it would only take a few minutes before I was lost in my fictitious world, and other times, I’d have to force myself to focus.
I was okay with this because there was nothing wrong with it. This stage, I think, is where most writers are. They make an effort to write even when they don’t feel like it.
What my struggle looks like
But that recently changed, too. Here’s a very recent example of what I go through now:
Just five days ago, I had an idea for a short story I’m writing. I wasn’t working on anything when I had the idea. Most writers would sit down and work on it. But I didn’t. I wanted to, but I didn’t.
That’s been happening a lot the last two months. I struggle to sit and write, to allow myself to say what I need to say, and to create.
I couldn’t figure out why. Was I lazy? Was I too distracted by other items on my to-do list? Or even worse, had I fallen out of love with writing? Was I sick of it?
I’d been thinking about those questions a lot. I flipped them through my mind every night, feeling lost and confused.
Why I don’t write even though I want to
And then yesterday, I figured it out. I was reading some articles here on Medium, and then I read, “To Do Your Best Work, You Must First Fall In Love With Hard Work” by Nick Wignall. He says this:
Procrastination’s most devilish trick is to convince us that it’s all in our head. That we can’t sit down to work because we’re too dumb, too depressed, to anxious, not good enough, because our mother didn’t love us enough. In other words, that the problem is in us and in the act of working…
So instead of psychoanalyzing yourself, buy comfier chair. Instead of berating yourself with paragraphs of negative self-talk, leave your phone in the other room. Instead of deciding you’re “just not a writer,” write about something you really enjoy instead of the thing you’re supposed write.
Right away, I realized why I‘ve been procrastinating my writing.
It has to do with everything I’ve learned recently. I’ve consumed a lot of information about writing from books, courses, and blogs. There are a lot of “rules” roaming about in my brain, all fighting to take charge of the forefront.
While I write, half of my brain is on the words I’m typing, and the other half is on the ideas I’ve learned. “Don’t forget this,” and “Remember, you can’t do that,” and “Do this, but like this instead.” It’s a lot, and it’s overwhelming.
The idea that I will mess something up, miss a step, and write something terribly stops me. All the information intimidates the hell out of me because… what if I’m not good enough?
Doubts stops you from doing what you love
I’m not procrastinating because I’m lazy, or because I don’t like to write. It’s just that at some point, I became afraid. The idea that I’m not good enough or won’t eventually be is stopping me from creating. I don’t write because I don’t want to disappoint myself. I don’t want to spend two hours creating something I’ll scoff at the next morning.
But here’s what I need to realize.
I’ve still got so much to learn, so many things to try out, and that’s okay.
The beginner’s stage is like your twenties. It’s the place to learn, to experiment, and more importantly, to fuck up.
When I write, I have to throw out not only the overwhelming lessons that I don’t have to reference until later but the negative talk.
There is one thing I have to focus on, and that’s writing. Who cares if I mess up? Who cares if I have to throw away from I took two hours to write?
Messing up is what’s supposed to happen in the learning stage.It’s not failure. It’s learning.
If I want to be a great writer someday, a published author, or a successful blogger, I have to go through the learning stage remembering that it’s not that I’m not good enough, it’s that I still have a ways to go. That’s all there is to it.
We have to remove the pressure to make something brilliant on the first try. We need to remember that just because what we write the first time isn’t what we’d initially planned, doesn’t mean we can’t improve. When we put pressure aside, ignore ours doubts, and remember that we can do this, we can write again.
There’s always a more profound reason for procrastination. What’s yours?