Writers – Procrastinators? Absolutely!
I post this one for my beautiful wife who has suffered for more than a decade as I have developed storyline after storyline – only to sit on my hands and barely write a word. What is it about the argumentative nature of blogging which allows me to churn out a couple of thousand words inside of thirty minutes? Ah, yes – the argumentative nature of it… silly me. I do love a good spar. If only writing a novel could be an exercise in arguing with myself… hmmm, I shall have to endeavor to make it so – but I digress. Here is a great article about why writers procrastinate though I am quite certain that all artistic types are inherently susceptible to this disease. A couple of great takeaways:
I once asked a talented and fairly famous colleague how he managed to regularly produce such highly regarded 8,000 word features. “Well,” he said, “first, I put it off for two or three weeks. Then I sit down to write. That’s when I get up and go clean the garage. After that, I go upstairs, and then I come back downstairs and complain to my wife for a couple of hours. Finally, but only after a couple more days have passed and I’m really freaking out about missing my deadline, I ultimately sit down and write.”
This one absolutely applies to me:
Over the years, I developed a theory about why writers are such procrastinators: We were too good in English class. This sounds crazy, but hear me out.
Most writers were the kids who easily, almost automatically, got A’s in English class. (There are exceptions, but they often also seem to be exceptions to the general writerly habit of putting off writing as long as possible.) At an early age, when grammar school teachers were struggling to inculcate the lesson that effort was the main key to success in school, these future scribblers gave the obvious lie to this assertion. Where others read haltingly, they were plowing two grades ahead in the reading workbooks. These are the kids who turned in a completed YA novel for their fifth-grade project. It isn’t that they never failed, but at a very early age, they didn’t have to fail much; their natural talents kept them at the head of the class.
I actually did write a ton in the fifth grade – a zombie novel about the kids that sat at my table and the school we went to… it was great fun watching them read it. In the fifth grade, I never drove myself crazy wondering about the quality of the work. I knew it was good (for a 10-year-old) and my ego trumped all good sense. Today – the following surely applies – and I assume that this is the real culprit:
The fear of being unmasked as the incompetent you ‘really’ are is so common that it actually has a clinical name: impostor syndrome.
Ayep, dagger – meet chest.