Category Archives: Work in progress

Fighting with Procrastination

Blaise the book chick 1977. Photo by Lin Van Hek

I didn’t make any New Year resolutions. I never do. I figure if you want to do something there’s no time like now. Why wait. I did tell myself that there are a few things I’d like to get done this year but it’s not a matter of making changes to get there.

One of my major projects for this year is to publish my book of stories from my childhood. I loosely call it memoir. It’s a bit experimental. And personal. Not personal in that there are secrets that I’ll be divulging, just personal as in special to me. In the writing of them I get floods of memories that I haven’t thought about in years. It’s positive but also hugely reflective. It’s made me think about my life from lots of different angles. That’s probably quite appropriate for the start of a new year.

But I have a problem. I’m a huge procrastinator. There, I said it. I’m still trying to work out why. I think there are two main reasons for my procrastination. Number one is that I am at times lazy when it comes to the hard work of writing. I love writing when I can sit down and it just pours out of me. Problem is that only happens about ten per cent of the time. Hard to finish anything with ten percent of inspiration.

My second problem is that I am scared. I fear that this work will not be received well. And I care about it because it’s personal. It’s very different to other things that I’ve written. It’s not that I didn’t care about those things, it’s just that if readers didn’t like them, I hadn’t invested as much of myself into the work, therefore I felt neutral about their opinions.

Because of these two issues that I’m having with this project, I’m fighting procrastination daily. Yes daily. It’s bordering on torture because I have told myself that I will work on it every single day. Then I find every excuse there is (every writer gets this) to not turn on my laptop. I’m tired. I’ll have one day off, it won’t hurt (that turns into two, then three). I’ll do the washing, tidy up my bedroom, troll around Facebook. I’m screaming at myself constantly to get with the program and STOP.

But, I know that beating myself up isn’t going to help. I am now forcing myself to sit at the computer and do something, even if it’s just one line. One line often becomes two. It’s a snails pace but I’m getting there. I’ve also set the launch date, 21 June, and I can see the first draft coming together. All these little strategies are what I tell people all the time and they do work. One step at a time.

Blaise the book chick

Why we write: self-expression

Writing for self-expression, image by Blaise van Hecke
Writing for self-expression, image by Blaise van Hecke

In my last blog, I talked about writing for significance, one of many reasons that people write. Self-expression is probably one of the first reasons that people start to write. And for many writers, the need to write is a compulsion or a way to offload, some feeling wound up if they can’t get back to this form of creating (it may be similar for other art forms).

Have you ever gone through adversity or struggled to come to terms with something but found it too hard to verbalise it to anyone? This is a very common experience. Writing it down can be the bridge between the writer, and a better understanding of a situation. In the act of writing, the problem may solve itself, or the writer may find a way to express it verbally to another person. The writing becomes an avenue of self-expression and therapy – quite a powerful activity and one to have been known to save a person from real pain and depression.

At some point, this act of self-expression may move from scribbling in a journal in private, to further outcomes like short stories, novels, poetry and memoir. This is a natural progression as the writer becomes more confident.

In the act of writing, no matter what genre, the writer gets to express beliefs, values, and ideas in a way that invites the reader to engage with them. It’s like having a private conversation with another person without interruption and fear of rejection. The writer can write his or her own truth and put it out there. It may be received in a positive way, or not, but it allows the writer to have a voice.

So while many people think to be a writer you need to be writing something commercial that earns money, it’s worth looking at the many facets to writing. The end result, where money is made, isn’t the whole story.