Imagine the scene.
You are at home trying to get some writing done and it is turning out to be a joyless hard slog.
In fact the more you try to focus, the more the negative self-talk inside your head is telling you that you are wasting your life and that all of this hard work and money and time is going to be for nothing.
Hey – you are creative. You can come up with all kinds of reasons why trying to write – at that moment – is a waste of time. The ‘muse’ is not at home and you are ‘not in the mood.’
And then your eye catches on a crinkly tea towel [ insert alternatives to tea towel of your choice].
Like these ones.
Suddenly you have a burning and passionate desire for crisp pointy edged tea towels which will delight your family and friends and earn you mega points in the best home keeper contest. Tea towels you can drape with pride in your kitchen.
It is an easy win. And it will only take 10 mins at most.
Gentle reader. Sorry to be blunt – but you are kidding yourself.
It won’t take 10 minutes, it will take hours. Why? Because once you have heated up your iron it seems a shame to waste the electricity and you love to be efficient, so this would be a good time to find other things to press. Like the bedsheets and linen shirts. All of them.
Of course, you will then need coffee/tea/gin because ironing is such hard work, only to find your chocolate stash is low. Horrors!
So you have a great idea. Why not pop to the supermarket and get some fresh air before going back to the writing?
Only the supermarket has the compilation DVD of the complete series of Game of Thrones/Downtown Abbey/Poldark etc. on sale at an irresistibly low price. And it is research.
And.. and …
Okay. Confession time. I have ironed socks. Truth.
Why? Because it was the closest shiny distraction at that moment and it would make me feel good to think that I had achieved something that day, no matter how small.
There is no shame in that. That was my process. And I wrote several books that way.
In the end, I had to accept the fact I was a chronic procrastinator, and try to do something about it before my writing career went out of the window for good.
It took me the best part of a year to truly get to grips with the why, before I could fix the how and the what, but here is one coping mechanism which worked for me then and still works for me now.
Don’t plan to write for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Grab a pen and paper, set a kitchen timer and then sit down on your own and write down in long hand whatever brain vomit comes out of your head.
You might be surprised at the people and stories who are waiting inside to come out and talk to you.
After all, to paraphrase the mighty Johnny B. Truant [ who does not shy from using profanity]:
“Our life is a one-way train, and any second you waste is a second lost forever.
Just do it. Claim it. Stop waiting for permission to be epic. Stop waiting for someone to give you what you want. Do it now. Do epic Sh*t. Be F**** awesome.”