Friday, January 5, 2018

Stalling Jags

I should be working on my novel. But here I am, writing in my blog.

Journaling / blogging is one of my many stalling techniques that prevent me from experiencing a zen-like level of productivity. Sometimes, I get lost in my own fiction, and writing isn't a chore at all. There's no stalling. No procrastination. I have to find out what happens to my characters!

But most of the time, my writing isn't that fervent. It is way more sporadic than I care to admit. I've got a rather busy life (though not as busy as others), and so I have a long list of excuses. Kids, marriage, family stuff. Housework, work-work, piles of essays to grade. Dogs who stare at me until I take them for a walk. A bunny cage that always needs cleaning.

Yet no matter how busy I am, there is still down time. For example, last night I watched the excellent film DARKEST HOUR. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I watched it... But part of my brain (the judgmental corner) wonders if I deserved to watch it. After all, I didn't meet my goal of one hour of writing.

I get why I stall on my novel when I am feeling lazy. (And I feel like binge watching "The Good Place" whilst eating ice cream). But what's the deal with putting off my writing to do something that takes way more energy?

Hmm... I could write for an hour or organize my messy office for three hours. Or." Let's see, should I write for an hour or walk the digs for an hour? And how many times have I suddenly had the urge to do the dishes instead of sitting with my iPad, giving another hour to my novel.

I think for me, there is the fear of mediocrity. I want my book to be excellent. And sometimes, as I am working on a chapter, I know that the writing, the humor, the characters could be a lot better. So, that part of my brain, the one that gives into the fear of mediocrity -- the one that would rather I create nothing rather than risk failure and disappointment -- that measly little part of my mind says, "Go do something else, Wade. Don't work on this book until you feel completely inspired. Until you have more free time to devote all of your attention to this masterpiece. Until you have cleared your schedule of all other concerns and responsibilities."

Sometimes I listen to that voice. I am more prone to obey this insecure voice when I am in the middle of a busy semester -- which is probably why I'm thinking about this right now. Spring semester begins on Monday, and I have a heavy workload for the next four months.

Fortunately, I don't let that voice win most of the battles. I know of too many potential artists who have given into that fear of mediocrity. Or worse, the fear of failure. (There's also a group of people who are afraid of success -- which I find even more mysterious than my little phobias.)

I don't know that there's a one size fits all solution that will forever rid me of these stalling jags... each day presents it's own variation on the same battle, and each day seems to require a new strategy. I am, however, thankful that most days I win.

Will I win today? Will I stop stalling and write another hour's worth of my book?

Tell ya what... if I win, I'll post a victory cartoon on my next blog entry. If the stalling jag delays me from getting down to business, I'll post a cartoon that represents the agony of defeat.

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