Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Time Trap

Over Labor Day weekend, I had hours and hours of time to write. Yet I only managed 2,000 words - and I did all that on Monday. In true Melissa-fashion, I waited until the last minute to get the writing done.

Sometimes, I get really frustrated with myself. Yes, there's a time to relax and spend time with your family, and it's crucial to our overall well-being. But there's also a time to write. And I didn't nearly do enough of it.

When I was a stay-at-home mom ten years ago after my daughter was born, I thought I would have oodles of time to write. And I did have oodles of time. Yet I didn't finish the novel. I procrastinated and put it off, thinking, "Oh, I'll do it tomorrow. I have all the time in the world!"

I did the same thing this last weekend. Instead of writing, I thought about writing, but instead, I took naps, read my book, played on the Internet, spent time with my family, went to church, exercised, etc. All of this is fine, of course. But I kept saying to myself, "Oh, I'll write later. I have all weekend!"

As it transpired, later turned into Monday morning. I wrote a bit in the a.m., then stopped and took a nap, then piddled around for another few hours before getting back to the keyboard. The result? A measly (to me) 2,000 words.

Why do we this to ourselves? Why do we waste hours and hours of free time putting off doing something we love? When I am in the midst of my writing, I love it (most of the time). So why should I take great steps to avoid it?

I guess it comes back to the whole concept of resistance that Steven Pressfield talks about in his book, The War of Art. I'm glad I'm not alone in this struggle, but boy, sometimes I wish it were easier to overcome.

How about you? Do you find yourself falling in this time trap?


  1. Constantly. I'll often start a painting, hate where its going, and just walk away from it. It can sit on my easel (in full view at all times) for a week or more, until I either decide to work on it some more or just file it away as a misbegotten attempt.

    I think the problem (for me at least) is that I deal with strict and rushed deadlines on a daily basis at work. I may put up a resistance to then having to work with similar deadlines when working on what I consider a hobby.

  2. Yep. But don't discount the thinking time. Sometimes we are hesitant for a reason.

  3. Looks like a great book! I think the best way to get rid of the time trap is to fill your time with everything but writing...then you will either have to fit it in (making you do more because of time constraints) or write in huge spurts when you have a day or two.
    Now, this way can also lead to ceasing writing altogether, so proceed with caution. I find having a (life) routine helps me fit in writing, and I feel balanced so that even if I haven't written lately, I still feel productive.

  4. Travis is right--sometimes we have to think about what we will write next--the next scene--how a character will act etc. I do that a lot so that when it comes time to sit--I am ready:)

  5. I've struggled with procrastination a LOT. I agree that thinking is important, but I've found that if I'm honest with myself, I know when I'm truly processing and when I'm procrastinating.

    I solved this (for the most part) by setting hours for myself, just as I have for my day job. I'm fortunate enough to have 5 days a week to write, and my hours are 9 am until at least 2 pm. During that time, if I'm not actually writing, I'm actively working--researching, brainstorming, note-taking.

    Treating it as a job with set hours has really helped. It's closer to what I did back when I was working 2 day jobs, and had only a few hours at a time to write. Oddly enough, I had less time, but was more productive...and I think it was because I knew those few hours were it, and I'd better make them count. :)

  6. Writers are the best procrastinators.

  7. I am the master of procrastination. If you figure out how to stop, please tell me!

  8. I force myself. And I force myself to write early--not so early I'm still sleeping, but earlier than afternoon. I wish I could say I jump in with glee, but usually, I'm scared I'll bomb the session!

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  10. Elizabeth Parker12:13 AM

    Unfortunately, it's been said that jobs expand to fill the time allotted to do them. So maybe shorter deadlines are the answer??? If I knew, I wouldn't procrastinate so much either.


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