posted on June 17th, 2009
I have suffered from what I thought was mere procrastination for much of my life. It’s caused me no end of frustration and self-loathing over the years, since deep down inside I have always wanted nothing more than to write. So why was I never finding time to actually do so?
To be fair, in my earlier adult years I was preoccupied with mundane things such as, well, paying for rent and food and birthing and then raising four children. It’s easy to find real-life excuses for not writing when one’s time is taken up with
diapers, more diapers, bills that can barely be paid, and spousal educations that need to be subsidized. Poverty-stricken parenthood is its own excuse.
But lately I’d begun to wonder why I still wasn’t writing regularly. Don’t get me wrong: I write. And I write really well when on deadline. The unfortunate thing is that I am rarely on deadline for my writing. The proofreading, the copy editing, the
typesetting—all of those time-suckers come with deadlines and I get a lot done in those situations. But writing is still very much a freelance event for me, and therefore there is always another load of laundry I could be doing, another person I could be e-mailing or having lunch with, another part of the house I could be fixing up. And then, the writing gets shoved aside.
It never quite felt like procrastination, though I always called it by that name. And yet, I am intimately familiar with the creeping, sinking feeling of true procrastination, and not writing did not feel like that. So what was it? Why wasn’t I writing more? Why wasn’t I staying up till all hours (which I usually love to do) in order to pen the next great American novel?
Then I picked up Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. An amazing book. You could say, for me, an epiphany. I sabotage myself. I put up my own walls of resistance and then don’t get anything done. I highly recommend this book to any writer (or artist of any stripe) who struggles to find or make time for his work. It’s a short book—approximately 130 pages—and it can be read in a single sitting if you can afford to procrastinate on the household chores a little longer. And you know you want to.
His premise of self-resistance is simple. His writing is straightforward. It rings true to me. In fact, it rings so damned loud that I nearly had to cover my ears to keep reading. If you need a kick in the pants to get back to your writing, you can wait a little longer and read Pressfield’s book first. The several hours it will take you to read it will be well spent because the next time you sit at your desk—or at the library or coffee shop or wherever else you write—you will be armed with the knowledge that you’re taking the first step in disarming your own self-sabotage.
Resistance, as they say, is futile.