Recently, I read a blog post called “Solitary by Design–The Writing Life”. The blogger’s whinging can be summed up in one sentence: “I have writing to do but social media keeps distracting me!” He then goes on to suggest creating a daily schedule for himself but then laughs it off as impossible. The post ends with a short discussion on how social media is robbing the world of great writers (using a parody Mark Twain Twitter account as an example) and that we writers need to get down to the business of writing.
It was one of those blog posts that are so satirical and tongue-in-cheek that I’m not sure how seriously to take the blogger.
I see blog posts like this crop up a few times every month. It’s either a writer crying over lost time or someone like an agent giving advice on time management. (I’m pretty sure if I looked hard enough on this blog, I’ll find a post I’ve written on the topic.) Writers procrastinating is an ongoing joke, as can be seen in the image below.
We talk about how we need solitude but end up spending an hour tweeting or “Facebooking”. We outline daily schedules only to get distracted by a reply to a comment we made on Goodreads. Once, my husband suggested unplugging the router so I could focus on my work and I replied with horror, “But what if I need to research something?” When all else fails, we re-organize our desks or stare into space. We do everything except write.
Why? For as many articles as you can find about procrastination and daily schedules, you’ll also find posts about how writing is a vocation and we can’t imagine doing anything else. Yet, we sabotage our own work. It makes no sense.
This doesn’t apply to every writer. Stephen King, despite the accident that nearly killed him, still manages to spit out tomes on a regular basis. He once said he writes 2,000 words a day. (I once tried that. I nearly died.)
I’m sure there is a scientific explanation out there for this, probably something to do with the ability to focus and which side of the brain is dominant and what phase the moon is in. I know, personally, sometimes it almost hurts to write, as if I’m having to dig deep into my brain to forcibly drag the words out.
Some people (myself included) say, “But we’re supposed to keep up a platform and engage our readers in social media and read books and do marketing. How can we do that and write?” It’s as if the industry itself contributes to the distraction and destruction of writers.
Growing up dirt poor in the middle of nowhere meant that, sometimes, to do what I wanted to do (usually go to church since that was the only place to socialize outside of school), I would have to search for someone to drive me. It meant being dependent on the needs and whims of another person to get to where I wanted to go. However, I wanted it bad enough to put up with another person’s schedule.
I think writing is a lot like that. If you want to do it badly enough, you’ll find a way. Perhaps it’ll involve re-assessing the emphases put on social media and marketing and maybe scaling back. Or joining a group of writers to help hold you accountable. Or actually (*gasp*) unplugging the router and turning off the cell phone. Either way, if you want it badly enough, if it is vital to you, you will find a way. But you won’t (and I won’t) if we’re all too busy crying over lost time.
So, shut up and write!