I struggle with the craft of writing. I block the words in my head because my doubting voice tells them they’re ugly or ungraceful or stupid, so I don’t write them down. And perhaps they are all those things but unless I acknowledge them and give them page time, they’ll never receive a makeover or an idea transplant. They shall remain doomed.
I’m working on this, desperately trying to detain my self-editor because it’s a word-bully who’s currently facing multiple charges of idea smothering. I’m writing. Slowly. One word at a time, and if my self-editor meets its bail conditions I might let it help me with second draft.
Then there’s my procrastination. Twitter. Pinterest. Blogs. I follow a phenomenal number of amazing blogs, so many that I’m beginning to lose track of what I’ve read and what I’ve liked and what I intended to comment upon but haven’t. My inbox is bursting.
Amazingly, for all of my self-destructive anti writing behaviour, I’m surprised how much I try to write. And as a hardcore procrastinator it is interesting to see how my ‘procrastinations’ emerge under circumstances where I have no boundaries. I don’t have writing goals, I have broad sweeping, airy-fairy, non-date-specific inclinations to write stuff.
No. Actually, it’s not helping. After reading this blog post by Sinéad O’Hart and this Mitten’s Kittens blog post I find myself aware that I’m not motivated by self-imposed deadlines. This is primarily because they are self-imposed. It matters to no-one but myself whether I submit a piece of writing. With my writerly self-confidence lost somewhere under the weight of my writerly self-doubt unfortunately what matters to me lacks a whole heap of writerly conviction.
I tortured myself with deadlines at university. If I had four weeks to complete an assignment, my doubting voice would say ‘don’t start it yet’, ‘you have heaps of time’, ‘what if you fail?’ and ‘what if you’re hopeless?’. Of course, the longer I delayed the project, the louder these voices became until the looming deadline forced me into action.
And I’d complete it in two days. Two anxiety riddled, sickening, stressful days. I did this repeatedly, each time listening to my stupid doubting mind, each time ignoring previous successes, each time undeniably knocking a couple of years off my life expectancy. And my rational voice chastises me and asks ‘why did you put yourself under that kind of pressure?’ and ‘why didn’t you start it four weeks ago?’, to which my doubting voice would smugly reply ‘because it would have taken four weeks’.
Dammit. That’s a good point.
If I had utilised the entire four weeks my doubting voice would only switch to saying, ‘that’s not good enough’, ‘do it again’ or ‘it still needs work’. Sure, my anxiety and stress levels would have dropped several notches, but I’d still be handing it over in the final hour. Deadlines make me finish.
And I’m writing without one.