Draconian Measures

Turn off the Internet. Unsubscribe from all your mailing lists (well, okay, you can keep the one or two most meaningful). Close your e-mail window and only check e-mail once or twice a day.

These draconian measures appeared on a list of advice for writers who were having trouble getting to their writing.

Are you one of those people? Have you ever kept meaning to sit down and write and then realized that days or weeks had gone by without having touched paper or opened your story file? And it seemed like just yesterday that you ...

If you haven’t had that problem, please get in touch with me and tell me how you do it. You are probably a professional writer who makes a living by tapping on your keyboard and have deadlines to meet.

Most life writers and memoirists are not in that situation. Neither is this blogger. It’s not that I haven’t been writing. Indeed, I’ve written dozens of e-mails, many dozens. I’ve written program descriptions and course materials and written Morning Pages nearly every day. I’ve written meeting minutes.

But alas! My blog and my memoir-in-progress are sadly behind schedule.

So what’s a person to do? What if you’ve been to your last two writing group sessions empty-handed, vowing to have something to read by the next one and that’s tomorrow? The advice at the top of this column is a good place to start. Those seductive web links are one of the most potent time traps ever devised. (Of course you should always click on any link to this blog!)

Another thing that helps me refocus when I’m overwhelmed or blocked is to take some time — a couple of hours or a day — and clean my office. Maybe I need to take a couple of days and clean the whole house. I simply cannot think clearly when I’m surrounded by an abundance of clutter. Clutter tolerance is a very personal thing. Mine is low. That does not mean I’m a tidy, orderly person. Au contraire. But I do need to stop and deal with it now and then.

But bottom line is that when we get behind, when we miss self-imposed deadlines, we need to get back in our chair and get our fingers moving, ASAP. Write something, anything, just write. Now. And refocus on why you are writing in the first place. The important things in our lives always get done, so remind yourself why writing is important.

Write now: a journal entry or story about why your writing matters — you to, and or to others.


ybonesy said...

That's good advice, even if it does seem harsh. I've been trying to keep off the computer once I'm home and not at work, otherwise I never can get to my creative work.

I think it's just another form of Monkey Mind; tricks you into thinking you're being productive when all it does is allow the passions---writing and art---to be tossed away.

Ritergal said...

Well put, Ybonsey. But off the computer? You write with a pencil or pen? Brava! Brava!