The Pit and Me

A Saugeen Lane - to remind me that I have to get moving toward my goal.
A Saugeen Lane – to remind me that I have to get moving toward my goal.

Some people hit a wall when they’re working on a writing project. I hit the pit—or rather I dive into it–full of self doubt and insecurities. For me, self-doubt is inexorably linked to procrastination, which expands, like the gases in Boyle’s law, to fill the space in my life where I should be writing. And I stop writing. Not for long, but for long enough to get gloomy about it.

So that’s what I have just done—again. And if this is a pattern of my writing life (and it is) then why do I keep writing?

Putting words on a page is hard work, and sometimes, like a two-year-old, I just want to sit on the floor with my blankie and yell, “I don’t wanna!” But, of course, I do “wanna.” I want to put those words on the page, not because it’s some huge pleasurable experience to do so, but because I love the feeling afterward—of having written. Scrolling back, checking the word count, printing and holding the pages, revising—that’s the fun stuff. And that’s what keeps me writing.

It will probably come as a surprise to no one that the pit stays completely out of sight when I’m working on a paying gig. Oh, I still procrastinate, but I don’t get all gloomy about things or question how I have the nerve to call myself a writer. The validation of a contract is a great cure for the pit.

So I’ve now embarked, full of enthusiasm, on a new project, and have found the pit again. So what’s next? A slow climb out, inspired by my procrastination mantra:  “You’ve done this before, so just get on with it.” (Chocolate helps—and Swedish berries, too.) I know that I will get the work done, and I will find the enthusiasm again.

Do you hit a wall or find the pit when you’re working on a project? What helps you keep going?

2 thoughts on “The Pit and Me

  1. I remind myself that it’s okay to start writing boring stuff. For example, one of my most hated approaches to anything written is the chronological approach. E.g., “I woke up this morning with bags under my eyes. I didn’t want to get up. But I did. I got showered, had my coffee, made myself breakfast, and then thought about the dreary day that lay ahead. Then I thought about the exciting evening I had planned….[blah blah blah]: I have my first date tonight since my wife died five years ago.”

    However, I find a lot of my writing starts out that way. If I just let it happen, the interesting point will show itself, and then I can really get going.

    • I think you’re right, Lori. If you plug in the self-editor too soon, nothing gets written. I do the same–just throw it all down on the page until the story finally finds the focus it needs to keep going. Lately, I haven’t even wanted to do that. It’s getting better though. I’ve picked up pen and paper and that’s unlocking some words that the keyboard can’t. All good.

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