He who hesitates is a damned fool. —Mae West
One of the hardest moments of my day comes right before I begin working. That’s the moment that my mind starts scrambling for something, anything else to do.
It’s fascinating because I actually enjoy my work. Why, then, am I always tempted to procrastinate? In The War of Art, Stephen Pressfield labels this feeling Resistance, and points out that the more important the work is to the development of our inner lives, the more Resistance we’re bound to feel.
That’s why it’s so important that we acknowledge the feeling and overcome it. “Resistance,” he writes, “by definition is self-sabotage.” Our writing fulfills our innate creative drive and putting it off harms ourselves first and most. We not only miss out on on the growth that writing gives us; we miss out on the fun.
Because writing is fun...once you get started. Once you overcome your resistance, the rest (by comparison) is easy. If Resistance and procrastination are problems for you, you can try:
- Creating a ritual. I like to start writing with a cup of coffee. Once the coffee is ready, I know it’s time to get to work.
- Schedule your time. When my daughter was young, I only had a few hours a day in which to write. It was one of the most productive times in my life because I protected that short period of time ferociously and remained focused on my work throughout.
- Warm up with something low-stakes. Resistance is often tied up with fear. Bookflow offers a daily writing prompt to encourage you to “play” with your work. Beginning your work with something fun will ensure that your mind is already firing when you reach for your work in progress.
Let’s all take Mae West’s advice to not be fools (although I’m sure she wasn’t talking about writing 😉). No one feels good or relaxed after procrastinating—you have to get past Resistance to reap the rewards.
And, speaking of fools, this week’s Craft Mini-Lesson/Activity is centered on the archetype of the Fool.