I want to tell you a secret. You know how sometimes you should be writing, but you’re not? You might even feel guilty, and It’s always there, nagging, in the back of your head.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fiction or nonfiction writer, a poet or a wanna-be-big-time blogger. What matters is that you write. Steadily. Regularly. And that you learn and improve your writing.
So, what’s holding you back?
It’s emotions, my friend. Emotions. Not the old “I don’t have time” excuse. Not the “I’m too busy” thing you force yourself to believe. And “some day” isn’t good enough, not if it’s bugging you right now.
You lie to yourself. Regularly. You tell yourself those oft-repeated lines that sound good, but really, in the end it’s bullshit.
It’s emotion and fear of emotion that’s holding you back. And since you already know about the self-confidence problems, the fear, and the negative voices shit that ails so many writers, I’m going to point out something else.
You want immediate rewards.
You want the love of your family, not their whining about you locked in your bedroom or office, writing.
You want nice dinners, time with friends, time for movies and shopping and sports on TV. Time to just veg out. Time to do whatever you’re in the habit of doing.
You want life to continue the way it has been. Without a lot of thought, without too many changes. Just comfort and ease, at least as you define it in your world. Living on auto-pilot without making too many changes or decisions. Don’t challenge yourself.
And you definitely don’t want to do that “schedule time for writing” thing everyone says you should do.
But you’re not writing.
Shouldn’t it just come naturally? A desire to sit down and write?
No, it doesn’t. Not when there’s so much other stuff in your head begging for attention, stuff that will give you a bit of happiness immediately.
Writing offers only long term rewards—sorry. You don’t get a pat on the back after a few hours of suffering.
The emotions you want are about comfort, safety, relative happiness, and peace in predictability. And if you don’t have those, if you run into the slightest bit of discomfort, you’re complaining about writer’s block.
And if you get on a regular writing schedule—out of your comfort zone—you’ll have to face emotions you don’t want to feel: Fear. Frustration. Doubt. Confusion. Feelings of self-doubt and even self-loathing. Even if you want to do it, or you want to be a more disciplined writer, it’s damned scary.
Friends and family might even make fun of you because they don’t know how to do what you’re doing. And they don’t understand it. You make them uncomfortable, and they lash out. You want to crawl back in your hole.
I’m no writer, you might think. I don’t even know how to write. This sucks.
So, if you’re not writing, you’re sticking with the familiar. The safe. The known. Maybe it’s not that happy, but at least you don’t have to put your toes in icy water. You don’t have to wade into a pool of pain, swim in an ocean of suffering.
Writing . . . What if you get better at it? What if you decide to learn more? What if you’re successful at it? How will that feel?
You’d love it, I’m sure. But you can’t skip all the uncomfortable baby steps. You can’t skip the emotions. You can’t write without feeling some pain.
But it won’t kill you. You might even come to enjoy it. You, your emotions, and your writing. Accept them. Love them. If you didn’t feel, you couldn’t write. It’s part of the writer package, a two-for-one sort of deal.
You and your emotions.
Be nice to them. Accept them.
Hello, Fear! Hi, Anxiety. What’s happenin’, Shame? I know you’re with me, Embarrassment. Let’s do this together, shall we?
Get back to your writing, take the baby steps, accept things as they are. Just decide. You can do it.