Self-Sabotage Countdown

Monday, August 27, 2007
I consider myself fortunate. Writer’s block hasn’t hit me over the head yet. But I’m guilty of inflicting something equally as harmful to my writing. On weekends, when I have free time to write, I can find many reasons to avoid it, especially during the summer months. Even without summer as an excuse, avoidance comes with the territory of being too busy. But isn’t everyone busy these days? Is this a legitimate reason or is it a form of sabotage?

Between work and family, I can always find a reason to keep moving my stories and manuscripts to the bottom of my latest projects pile. It’s easy; I just lift them up and place them beneath everything else. Out of sight and forgotten, until I work my way through everything and get caught up.

But that’s not all. When I’m feeling particularly tired, distracted, or frustrated, I add other “projects” to the stack--the kind that can’t fit into an inbox or file folder or to-do lists.

This is where my self-sabotage begins, and it’s what every writer should not do.

The countdown:

#10: I need more coffee, and I need to have it with a friend or two.
What could be better than sharing coffee (or any beverage) with a friend? It’s purely delightful, sipping and speaking, speaking and sipping. I catch up with my friends’ lives, their kids, and all their stories. Pretty soon two hours goes by and, it’s always fun, but in the end I realize I’ve neither written a single word or thought. I’ve enjoyment talking so much that I’ve avoided thinking about any of my writing projects.

#9: My furniture, floors, mirrors, and toilets need me.
I’ll just clean everything really quickly, especially since it’s been months since the last time. Cleaning my house will clear my mind, and it will enable me to start fresh. Without the burden of dirt around me, I’ll be able to create a manuscript that will put even a famous author like J.K. Rowling to shame.

#8: My Netflix queue is empty; I need to fix that.
The weekend is approaching at warp speed. I’ll just sit down at the computer, log into my account, and peruse the 568 recommended movies on my list. There has to be one, two, or even three that I can add quickly. That way I’ll be able to write for the next three weeks straight, because I won’t need to add to the queue for that long. That’ll be the best possible mind-stimulating manuscript preparation yet.

#7: I need to trim my cuticles and my fingernails, right now.
Since I need to tackle good grooming issues, so should my kids. I’ll tell them they need to take care of this right away. When they’re done, we’ll have to play a game together, something that uses the fingers; we must show off our gorgeous grooming skills.

#6: Scented candles would help me write and think in a more relaxed state.
How many do I have? What scents are they? Vanilla and mulberry--not enough. I need more than that to finish an entire story for Highlights magazine. Hmmm. But a long, hot bath would complete the desired Zen atmosphere. Maybe I should take a notepad and pen with me, close the door, and focus. No, no, actually, I’ll just close my eyes, rest my mind, and write later, when I’m clean, relaxed, fresh.

#5: I need to check my email; its constant dinging sound is annoying.
No wonder it’s been dinging, I have 200 emails. But if I start now, I can knock these off in an hour. That’s not very long. I’ll just sift through to the important ones, and I’ll leave some for later on.

#4: The Saturday mail is here--I’ll go check for good news regarding my last query.
Oh, my gosh. Would you look at that? Talk about timing! The Oriental Trading Company’s latest catalog is here, and my kids need crafts. An hour is all it will take for me to find some new things to do. My kids will love these crafts, and so will I. As soon as the box of new crafts arrives, I’ll write for hours while my kids create something especially artsy-fartsy.

#3: I need to exercise; I’m a walking knot.
The coffee wired me up; the house cleaning tired me out; the Netflix queue took up time; grooming with my kids and playing a game made me hungry…I just need to do something for me. My heart doesn’t feel right. It needs to pump harder.

#2: I haven’t eaten in hours--I need a meal, and I need it now.
Maybe I should ask my friend to go out to lunch with me? I don’t really want to dine alone. Plus, I might find new ideas for my latest story’s dialogue while I’m listening to the din of casual conversation in the restaurant.

#1: But the most important item I have to accomplish--I must write or read a blog.
Yes, yes. I must do this. Blogging is good for the writer’s soul. (?!) Somehow, some day and some way, my blogs will work their way into my story. It doesn’t matter that they are totally unrelated to what I write.

Huh? What am I doing? Now, I need to go squeeze in time to write. The weekend is nearly over. I could have drafted out ten stories in the time that I spent doing all these other things.

Sigh. I’m guilty of writer’s self-sabotage.
I should go into the kitchen and find my hidden stash of emergency chocolate.
I need to feel better.


Danette Haworth said...

I think I've done almost everything on your list!

Angela Mackintosh said...

So true. Since I started with WOW! I haven't had a single spare moment to work on my novel. It's funny how that works. Now I have all the contacts, even a potential agent, and no time to write for me.

My weekend list of sabotage goes like this:

Artwork to do;
Links to build;
Blog to write;
Meta tags to create;
New advertising banners to design;
Constant email to check;
Whoops! Gotta take some time out with hubby to go to see "The Ten" (this movie he's been really wanting to see for 2 weeks now);
And oh no! What's that? My cat has a lump on the side of her belly! Gotta take her to the kitty clinic. It's nothing serious, just a $500 abscess from a cat who scratched her outside... =/

Well there went the weekend!

Back to starting the list all over: Artwork to create...

and it goes on, and on...

But things get accomplished, and no one asked me to complain, but I did anyway. LOL. Somehow I feel better now! ;-)

Great post Sue!

Sue said...

Thanks, ladies! I don't like to use cliches, but misery truly does love company. It's always good to know we're not alone in this field! ;-)

Sarabeth said...

For me, you would have to add: I need to read a book to get a different perspective on words and phrasing.

Sue said...

Thanks, Sarabeth. The funny thing is that I probably could have made it a countdown of 20 items. But I don't want to embarrass myself in public! LOL.

Anonymous said...

My wonderful accountability partner just sent me this! Y'all have been spying on me.

Think I'd better go work on my blog now.

Great, inspiring and scary post! Glad to find you.

Cher'ley said...

Okay, your post about covers my morning. I've even posted in 3 blogs today and I've cleaned out all 3 email boxes.

Now I'm going to close this window and write on my novel even if it's just a paragraph.

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