There is a strange tension in writing this book. See the topic is grief. It involves delving into the hard stuff. It is not easy to write. When I do get words on paper it is inevitably draining.
Naturally this means I often find myself in creative procrastination, in order to avoid being emotionally battered by what I am writing.
Suddenly the girls’ wardrobes need reorganising, or the toy shelves. There is a pressing need to file my emails and photos correctly, and I even contemplate cleaning the windows.
I am now at the point where I recognise and combat reasonably effectively against these forms of procrastination. But there are other more subtle procrastination techniques that are harder to beat. Here are some of my more insidious ways of avoiding writing.
The first is improving my craft. I read blog posts about writing, I listen to podcasts about writing, I read books about writing and even enrol in writing courses. All to avoid actually doing the writing itself. I am in a loop where I need to improve my craft, but I am using this to avoid even doing my craft at all. If I have nothing written, how am I going to use all these great skills I have learnt?
Another is doing research. I am aware that this book needs research into the different ways people grieve and different rituals across cultures. But I can follow these trails too far, caught up in the research so much that I don’t actually stop and use any of it to inform my writing. Again I have to ask myself, how can this research support writing that does not exist?
The last is talking about the process. I can spend all day talking about how my process is going. How I am struggling with an image, or an idea. So much that talking about writing feels like it is writing. It’s not.
Yes, it is important for me sometimes to articulate where I am going and where I am getting stuck out loud. Conversations with the right people can lead to new direction and momentum. However I need to remember that is not writing.
Learning about writing is not writing.
Researching writing is not writing.
Talking about writing is not writing.
Only writing is writing!
Join me for the journey,
2 thoughts on “The things I do to avoid writing”
Great stuff, Jo. I was thinking about the notion of ‘productive procrastination’ the other day. It’s the sort of procrastination that leaves you with some evidence of industry, just not the thing you were procrastinating. There are worse forms of procrastination, but it forces me to ask the question ‘is this the thing I should be doing right now or the ‘productive’ thing I’m doing to avoid what I should be doing?! Sometimes I don’t really want to hear the answer to that question.
Thanks Simon. I have been avoiding the answer to that question too … Hmm, more procrastination!
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