Writing is my favorite pastime. So why do I find so many reason to NOT do it? For years, before I had the most fabulous agent ever who now gives me virtual slaps on the hand when I don’t meet a deadline, I felt like writing was indulgent. It was a hobby, for my own pleasure only. It didn’t provide anything useful for my family or the world at large. It annoyed my children that I was on the computer when I could be making them a grilled cheese sandwich. Writing didn’t get the laundry folded or the groceries put away. True, but I still shouldn’t have felt guilty for doing something just for me.
Well, it’s not just for me anymore. Now I’ve finished a manuscript. I’m working on two more and I’ve made promises to people that I will get them finished. These are powerful people. Not the kind who will break my legs if I don’t pay up, but important people who want to help me succeed at this hobby-turned-career. So again, I ask myself, “Why aren’t I writing right now?” Is it because I am a horrible procrastinator (or an excellent one, depending on your point of view.) Is it because I think other tasks are a more valuable use of my time, like watching Modern Family or getting a pedicure?
Fear that the lovely ideas in my head, the beautiful characters dancing through my subconscious, will not translate into words which capture their magnificence. I’m afraid to trivialize their story with my own inability. So, rather than tarnish it, I keep it to myself. It is the curse of the perfectionist writer, triggering the demise of many a promising novel, not just mine but others as well. But as Bob Mayer says, “Harness fear as a motivator rather than letting it disable you.” If you worry you aren’t the best writer you can be (and who among us is satisfied with everything we’ve written?) then strive to be better. Don’t wallow in literary quicksand. Grab a rope (and a keyboard) and get yourself out of there.
So, to all you writers, frittering away your time NOT writing because you are afraid to harness your own brilliance, sit down. Put your butt in the chair and type. And remember that the first draft always sucks. But it’s only the first draft. Those nebulous characters whispering in your ear will begin to sing and shout, and their story, your story, will come to life.
The laundry can wait, the children will forgive you (Or not. They’re kids. Who can say?) But at the end of the day, be proud that you have written.