I’ve been re-reading Bill O’Hanlon’s book “Write is a Verb,” and found that Chapter 2 really shouted at me.
Chapter 2, “Writing Begets Writing,” points out what should be obvious — sitting down at the computer/legal pad and scratching out words will eventually result in getting your writing done.
But many writers are procrastinators. We excuse ourselves from the task for a variety of reasons — we don’t have a huge block of uninterrupted time, for instance. Or there’s something else — running the kids to lessons, cooking dinner, exercise class — that demands our attention.
Perhaps we fear we’re not “good enough.”
Perhaps real life is interfering. Some of us do have other jobs; most of us have families.
Time is always an issue (sadly, no one has figured out how to squeeze more than 24 hours into a day!)
O’Hanlon says that if you want to be a writer, you will write.
A plumber, he says, doesn’t appear at your house fretting over failure or “plumber’s block.” Neither should writers.
Plumbers don’t wait for a perfectly quiet house in which to work, or spend time and money going to and from a gazillion plumber’s conferences, or read countless books on how to be a plumber.
They dive right in, and so should we.
O’Hanlon advises writers not to give feelings too much attention. Feelings, he says, often are wrong and tell us we can’t write.
“So, thank those feelings for sharing and then tune them out. Get on with it. Don’t wait for the Muse to visit,” he says.
Anything that takes you away from your goal — writing and publishing — can be considered a distraction, no matter how “necessary” or “helpful” it might be. That includes writing exercises (“stop practicing and start producing”), making detailed outlines or doing extensive research, checking and re-checking e-mail, “having” to be in the mood to write or be surrounded by the right music and a scented candle.
O’Hanlon says, “If I had to choose one thing that separates the wheat from the chaff, it would be persistence. It certainly isn’t talent. I’ve coached some people with amazing talents who remain unpublished because they have not persisted.”
The bottom line? Put your bottom in the chair and start writing!