On Sunday I took (yet another) Grub Street class, called "Time of Your Life." Taught by Hillary Rettig, the class focused on ways to find time to write for those of us who cannot give up our day jobs and/or are unwilling to sacrifice family, friends, and everything else in the name of our art.
Hillary spoke to us about living a conscious life: if you do not manage your time, someone else will be happy to manage it for you, and you'll end up working hard to fulfill someone else's dreams, not your own. She also spoke to us about PROCRASTINATION.
She spoke of the "laziness myth." Writers don't procrastinate because writing is "too hard." If it was really just too hard and we were lazy, well, we'd probably just give up trying to write altogether, and focus on watching t.v. instead. We could embrace the lazy lifestyle. But no, we want to write. We want to do this hard thing because it fulfills us and gives us joy in some way. We know that the work pays off with rewards. So then why do we put it off?
It's not going to be as good as it is in my head. It's not going to be as good as that other author who writes in the same genre. The first 20 pages came out magically awesome, and the rest won't be as good. The first 20 pages came out kinda crappy, and surely the rest will be worse. I don't have the knowledge I need to write this well enough. I only have a few minutes, that's not enough time to write anything worthwhile... and suddenly we're doing the laundry instead of writing. Or doing more research when we probably have enough to get started. Or surfing the internet looking for a new blog that will give us the secret key to writing like James Joyce and getting published like Stephenie Meyers.
I don't have the answer to help you figure out which fear is yours, but I do know that this is a powerful message, and it should be passed along: YOU ARE NOT LAZY. Procrastination doesn't make you a bad person or bad writer... in fact, it's a pretty common-sense defense mechanism that protects you from feeling terrified of failing. But if you face the fear down? Then you can write anything you want.
Hillary has an ebook available for download on this subject as well: The Little Guide To Beating Procrastination, Perfectionism and Blocks (she told us that she no longer teaches the section on "hypersensitivity", but that the rest is still recommended material).
I've gotten some positive feedback on a project, and I'm scared of messing it up. But I have to edit, and have to finish, or I'll never get any further. And this project DESERVES to go all the way. HOW ABOUT YOU?