I have a job to do. My first bonafide copywriting job, for an organization who is paying me to write a feature article. I have one week to get it done. Technically, this has nothing to do with rewriting my novel, but it does have something to do with writing, and since you, curious reader, are peeking behind the curtain to see how a writer writes, I thought I’d demonstrate.
I power up my laptop, line up my chair in front of the desk, and then head for the refrigerator.
I want to see what’s edible in there. Plan ahead for what to make for lunch.
I notice a miniature head of lettuce that I need to take to the compost bin. And that smell, what is it? Old apples? Funky. I need to root around in there and see what’s emitting foul odors. And I need to defrost the refrigerator. Yes…I still have a fridge that needs defrosting. I’ve never owned a fridge that defrosts itself. I would like to own a self-defrosting fridge. It’s on my to-do list: things to buy when I have the money and a home of my own. But for now, the fridge gets defrosted the old-fashioned way: with a hair dryer.
All of this refrigerator-searching is not the way to get the bonafide writing job done. I know that.
This is how to avoid getting it done.
This is resistance.
Or maybe excitement.
I want to prolong the actual moment of sitting down to write because from the vantage point of the refrigerator, the bonafide writing job still looks like fun. When I actually sit down and face the blank page it will stop looking like fun and look more like I don’t know what the heck I’m doing.
This is the demon talking.
Here’s the remedy to shut him up. Quick! Set the timer for fifteen minutes. Pull up a blank Word document. Start writing.
Get your face out of the fridge.
Do not trot the lettuce out to the compost bin.
Do not haul out the hair dryer.
Save all of those chores for that time of day when the creative juices have dried up. Somewhere around three o’clock, when the napping instinct kicks in. You can duke it out then between the one-who-wants-to-nap and the one-who-wants-to-do-household-tasks.
For now, the one-who-has-a-writing-job needs to sit her butt in the chair like a professional and get to work.
Which is what I do.
I set the timer, sit down, open a blank document, and write this blog post. Which is another way of avoiding the bonafide writing job.
But it teaches me something. Actually, two somethings.
One: setting a timer forces me to focus on getting the words on the page. It’s a deadline. I don’t have the luxury of meandering around the sentences, losing all track of time and all attempts at good posture. With only fifteen minutes, I need to get to the point.
Two: setting a timer forces me to write fast. I can shoot past the inner critic. If there’s time left before the dinger dings, I can go back and tweak it. Then let it go. Save it.
I’ll apply those steps to the writing job.
Right after I’ve analyzed why I have the urge to stuff food in my mouth whenever it’s time to put words on a page.
Takeaways this week:
If you haven’t already done so, buy yourself a self-defrosting refrigerator. And a self-vacuuming vacuum. And a self-washing washing machine. Wait…that’s called hired help. The point is, let someone or something else do the work; like your non-writing subpersonality, after writing hours.
Deadlines are great motivators to get thy butt into the writing chair. But it’s good to leave a buffer of time so you’re not attempting to create quality work at the last minute. So…start early, for a specified period of time. One hour for research, or jotting notes, or drafting copy. Go.
Are you more creative in the morning? After lunch? In the evening? Decide which works best for you and schedule your most important writing time during that slot.
Set a timer, write a lousy first draft quickly, save it, take a break, and then look at it fresh.
Remind yourself: I can do this. I have the chops. I’m a writer! A little pep talk goes a long way.