I've been struggling lately with finding time to write.Working 14 hour days, driving an hour each way, coming home to fix dinner, do laundry--all the mundane tasks that are a part of life. I was so looking forward to this past weekend when my husband would be gone on a three day trip to Branson with our two oldest children. I made a list in my mind of things to do...shopping, cleaning, tackling the monster mess I call an office. And most important of all--writing.
Did I accomplish any of my goals? A few minor ones. I did laundry, cleaned up the trash the neighborhood dogs had scattered, got one of my entries ready for the Golden Heart contest. I did a bit of necessary shopping. But as of noon on Sunday, I really hadn't accomplished much of anything. I'd had nearly 48 hours to myself, so why wasn't anything getting done?
I think sometimes the more time we have on our hands, the less we do. Ever hear the old saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person?" It's so true. Once I sit down in front of the computer, it just about takes a crowbar to pry me loose. Not because I'm writing. No, I'm cruising the eHarlequin boards, reading email, checking out eBay. I'm playing Spider solitaire, hearts, and Freecell. I'm reading someone else's writing.
Then JoAnn Ross started posting excerpts from Eric Maisel's book Coaching the Writer Within (with permission from Eric). Two of the things he said really caught my attention: Suit up and Show up, and Don't Snivel. I'm really bad about Sniveling, as the Posse can tell you. I whine about my life, my husband (who really is a good guy), about the lack of money, about my health. I whine about not writing. What I don't do is Suit up and Show up.
I show up at my computer, but without my writing "suit" on. I don't sit down with the intention to write, and that's crucial. When I finally do open my manuscript, it's not because I'm eager to write. It's because I think I should. It's the same way I approach cooking--not because I want to, but because I have to. As I started thinking about this, I realize it's the same way I approach a lot of things in life. I work because I have to, not becauseI want to. I get up in the morning because I have to. I clean house because I have to.
So I started thinking about what I would do if I didn't have to--or couldn't--do those things. I'd sit on my already large butt and eat my way through a bag of M&M's and Hershey bars and waste 18 of my allotted 24 hours accomplishing nothing. I'd feel sorry for myself as I watched my friends win contests and sell books. And I'd blame my lack of productivity on whatever chores I thought needed my attention.
Am I living or existing, just biding my time until my number's up? The answer didn't exactly thrill me. I usemy writing as an excuse to not do other things I need to do, and I use other things I need to do as an excuse to not write. Is anyone else guilty of this, or is it just me? Do people who work long hours do it because they love what they do, or as an excuse to avoid intimacy with theirf amily? Do you find a thousand and one things to do that keeps you away from the computer, even knowing you have deadlines looming? Why?
I think the root cause is fear. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of success, or fear of failure. If you fail, you can always say it was because you were too busy, had too many responsibilities, too many distractions. But if you succeed, can you do so again? Or will you fail the next time, and this time publicly because you now have readers? And if you fail, you'll let people down. Yourself, your family, your fans. So instead, we avoid the problem altogether.
A friend has a tagline I love..."Put on your Big Girl panties and deal with it!" So today I'm putting my Big Girl panties on under my Suit, and I'm going to show up at my computer and deal with it.
Anybody want to join me?
Monday, November 14, 2005
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