Guilt, Or when you know you haven’t done enough

“I really admire your ability to write so much every day.  I know I couldn’t do that/ I don’t have the time/ I wish I could do that…”

How many times have I heard the different variations of that and thought, I’ve not done as much as you think.

And then the guilt sets in.  Tonight I shall do more, I vow.  I’ll employ my best tactics; reserve treats until I’ve got something down, turn off all distractions (phones, T.V etc).  I’ll create a space for myself, time alone.

It works, for a couple of days. But then I’ll say to myself, don’t forget to blog or, don’t forget to work on the piece for the writers’ group.  So I’ll concentrate on that before it too fizzles out. Then I’m back to square one, again.  What have I done to tackle it?  The current answer is to break it up into bite-sized chunks throughout the evening. Is it working?  I’ll let you know when I’ve got around to implementing it.

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The Art of Thinking

What is it about thinking I love so much?  Is it the random realms of fantasy I can disappear into? Is it the habit of leapfrogging from one to another in a blink of an eye?  Maybe its because it gives me a chance to review the past and attempt to figure out the future.  Far more likely is that it is all of these things.

It’s not easy having a butterfly mind.  It took a lot of training to do this, you know.  Well, that’s what I like to tell myself, anyway.  I guess its to stop me from thinking too much.  If I did that I’d never get anything done.  I have plans you know, for this precious time of mine.

Pieces of writing need to be worked on.  Books need to be read.  These things can’t happen without my input.  Can you imagine what it would be like if none of my poor books got read?  No Rincewind, no Tyrone Slothrop, not even the Illustrated Man.  Goodness me, life without those would be very boring.

So I must stop thinking and start doing.  Perhaps I should put some effort into what I’m doing this weekend.  You can never plan too much, right?  Don’t want to find myself on the wrong road, do I?

Am I procrastinating when it comes to thinking?  Not when its productive, it isn’t.  The next question is, but how often is it productive?  Well I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it, I’ve been too busy….

I’ll do it in a bit

‘Well I could do it now, but this needs my attention.’  ‘Oh this is more urgent, so I’ll spend my time doing it, I’ll do my writing later, when I have time.’ ‘I only have half an hour, I can’t give my writing the proper amount of time needed to really get into it.’

Do any of these sound familiar?  Maybe you have your own ways of putting things off, but I think most of us do it.  Procrastination is something that we all do and yet we don’t intend to do it.  Writing is a victim of procrastination because we feel that we need to give it time to work.  Or at least, enough time to do it justice.

Writing, is just like any other hobby.  You can give it as little or as much time as you wish.  Do not be afraid to give it ten minutes here or half an hour there.  Maybe on the commute to work, you can let your mind wander and consider names for characters.  Perhaps a scene could be fleshed out.  Brushing your teeth is a mundane task that we all know how to do, so that would be a good time too.  Just remember to put the brush back when you’ve finished.

Of course, the best time to do it, is when you are most relaxed (something which I will talk about in a later post) as this is when you let your imagination off the leash without even knowing it.  But, you can always find times and places where you are not busy or stressed or anything else.

Imagination is like a shy animal.  It cannot be forced out of it’s burrow, it has to be left alone to peek it’s nose out by itself.  When it is happy, then it will come out to play.  Of course, the more you show that it is okay, the more it will do it.  Before you know it, your imagination will pop out again even after a disturbance, such a phone call or a doorbell.

If that doesn’t work, try and incentivise writing.  Say to yourself, I’ll do this thing I enjoy after I’ve done some writing.  You’ll get a double whammy; you’ve done some writing and you get your reward.

Whatever you do, enjoy it.