Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Writers and Race Horses

Aha! Got your attention with the title, didn't I? Well, let's hope so. These thoughts seemed to spill from my mind this morning...

Writers are like the jockeys on race horses. The thoroughbred under us is our creativity, our passion to write, dance, sing, film, whatever your goal might be. The race is the journey.

Now before you sit back and think, "She's become a blogger of fortune cookies!" let me assure you that I do have a point. And while I'm using writing as an example in this blog, you could really substitute whatever you want--whatever your goal is--in its place.

We writers have a way of sabotaging ourselves. We might know that we write best in the morning, but rather than face that blank page and all the terror/joy it brings, we do "mindless" things first. We check our e-mail, put a status on Facebook, post a few things on Twitter, toss a load of laundry in, spending what we think will be a harmless few minutes.

It's never a few minutes.

And no, I'm not against these networking sites at all; I quite enjoy the networking with other writers and artists, not to mention the avenue to promote various works.

No, what I mean is, if we are morning writers, we should do that first thing. Don't stall. Doing it first thing is like taking that burst of energy and adrenaline, and charging from the gate to race that horse down the track. The horse is excited, it's ready to go, it's tired of being caged up and not released. When we dive into our writing without doing these "mindless" things first, our horse (creativity) is charged fully, ready to go.

Ideally, this is the best way to write and achieve a goal. Then if we need a break around the 3/4 mile mark, we can briefly hop on Twitter or elsewhere to check in, provided we return to the track.

But that's not what writers do. Writers might charge for a paragraph or two, but then slip into the bad habit of twittering, facebooking, emailing, emptying the dishwasher, laundry, polishing rocks, and well, you get the picture. We procrastinate out of fear; we don't want to face that blank page--so we stall.

Stalling on your goal is like running your horse around the track 300 times *before* the important race. The horse gets tired, gets worn down, even if it's just a light jog around the track over and over. Its energy gets DIVERTED from its original purpose: to win the race.

That's what we have to avoid. Diverting our energy out of procrastination.

Now I, like all writers, have succeeded and failed at the above. There are days I charge ahead into the writing, not allowing myself any time on the web until I've hit my wordcount goal. There are other days where I will scatter myself on these tasks first, and if I'm able to, I will sit down and eventually get that wordcount...but it's difficult. It's riding a tired horse across the finish line.

The social networking with other writers is wonderful, and all those sites have their time and place. Once I've hit my wordcount, I love connecting with other artists. But we have to reach our goal however we can. If you're an evening writer, turn off the TV and don't get on the web until you've written. Figure out what works best for you and stick to it.

Elaine

2 comments:

Pam said...

ELAINE!! Have you been spying on me?

Seriously, I'm glad I'm not alone in this. And I do think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "We writers have a way of sabotaging ourselves."

ENOUGH.

No more self-defeating behaviors where writing is concerned.

I am a morning writer. From this day forward, there will be NO email, Faceook, Twitter, or net surfing until I have completed my 1000 words.

Period.

I think I can, I think I can...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Pam

The Writers Canvas said...

Hey Pam!

Nope, I'm not spying on you! Just spying on myself in the last few weeks!

Nah, seriously, I do the same thing. And I think it's because I have a fear that the words won't come, nothing will flow, when I sit down to write. Which is ridiculous, because as we all have seen, the words *do* come, but only if we *do* show up at the computer.

If we don't show up to write, the writing will never come.

By the way, a book you might enjoy--The War on Art by Steven Pressfield--it's one of my favorites. He fights his sabotage and procrastination head-on, and offers keys to do the same. A book worth having and reading time and again.

Thx for commenting!
Elaine