Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Confessions of a Distracted Writer

It's been a reasonably productive vacation morning. Sleeping in, followed by a little laundry, a little emptying of the junk mail in the wildly overstuffed inbox, a bit of straightening here and there. A trip onto Facebook to see what I might be missing. A few additions to my to do list.

Anybody notice anything missing??
As I sat in my writing perfect house this morning (now this afternoon), I failed to accomplish even the remotest bit of writing (unless you count Facebook posts, which I do not). Everyone is home and happily -- and quietly -- occupied. No one is bothering me. I have ideas, notes, plans, time...and yet instead of writing, I've tackled a few tasks that Covey would classify as important, but not urgent. The big rock, sitting in the center of my mind, is working on my novel, but instead, I am procrastinating.

The fact that I'm procrastinating comes as no surprise to me -- it's one of my greatest skills. But the thing that puzzles me is why this procrastination is hitting so hard now. I know I am nearing the end of my novel, so why am I not filling my lungs to capacity and sprinting the last leg?

Maybe it has something to do with Monday's post -- after four consecutive days of sprinting (after nearly that many months of sporadic sprints), I am out of shape. My mind is begging for a rest. If, however, that were the case, why would my mind suddenly click on in full clarity between, say one and two in the morning when I am trying to go to sleep?

Maybe it has something to do with the status post I typed earlier this week when it hit me that all the puzzle pieces of my novel that were presenting themselves as isolated scenes were actually the road to the end of the book, and all I had to do was put them together in the right sequence so the proper picture would form.

Yeah. That's all I have to do. Because, you know, that's not intimidating in the least. And that revelation is nothing, if not an invitation to launch new projects, blow the dust off existing ones, clear years worth of accumulated emails out of my inbox and straighten six-month old detritus in my basement.
Excuse me. I hear the laundry calling.

Okay, I'm back. (Yes, I really did leave, for those of you who are wondering if I seriously abandoned
you mid-blog to toss laundry from the washer to the dryer).

And that is one of the double-edged swords of working at home. When things get tough, it's far too easy to abandon ship -- to get out of my chair and go do something else that is calling to me from a far corner of the house. When the writing is going reasonably well, moving from place to place can actually be therapeutic; those brief expeditions conjure up the next transition, or maybe even next few lines, especially when I'm momentarily stuck.

But when it's not going well, or when it hasn't even been started? Then all those expeditions add up to massive procrastination.

It doesn't matter how necessary, important, useful or essential the distractions are. They serve to pull my focus away from what I'm supposed to be working on.

Only they don't. The guilt (the really big rock) travels with me, growing larger with each echo of the equally big question: "Why am I not writing?"

Interestingly enough, confronting the procrastination and finding its source chips away at that big rock (yes, I am still a counselor at heart). And chipping away at the rock often leads to a solution.

Sometimes that solution is relocation (yes, that usually means Starbucks). Sometimes it means chipping off pieces of the rock and starting with equally small pieces of writing time because sometimes small pieces of writing times like blogs or emails prime the pump. And sometimes those same blogs and emails are just another excuse to procrastinate.

But usually, as in today, they are a warm-up. They remind me that I can still put words on a page, and that words on a page are much easier to fix than a looming blank page. And that even if I suspect that the words I put on the page yesterday were a waste of time and space (as I do), the only cure for that is....

...more words on the page.

Off I go.

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