So here's a question for your Friday evening: What excuse cycles are you used to?
What are the sequences of thought that sneak into your mind, and cause a little chain reaction of stepping back from the work?
It's the end of the week, and that makes it a good time to clean the lint out of our mental pockets, right?
Here are the top four goofy excuses that have crept into my thinking this week, kicking me away from my desk:
Someone probably needs me for something. Handy little excuse, because it's been accurate for much of the past crazy year. So I still get a vague ominous feeling now and then. It makes me get up and sniff around for trouble.
But things are pretty okay at the moment, which means I end up distracted for no good reason, and find it hard to settle down again.
I can't think. Which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because I forget how many times I've sat down to work with nothing in my head, and hours later, I have pages full of words. That I-can't-think feeling is usually a big liar.
This scene needs too much work. Well, that's why I've hired myself to work on it. Right? That's my job. But somehow this thought shows up, and I feel a big internal sense of: Yup, you're right. Time to go find potato chips and a movie.
Have you seen the kitchen? Seriously. Have you. Right. The thought that the kitchen (especially when it should be condemned by a health inspector) is a valid excuse to keep me from writing.
I could go on and on. There's a whole army of dud excuses marching in my brain, all sounding like imperatives, all mimicking urgency. And too often, I stop my work and listen.
What I love about Eric Maisel's quote is that he doesn't say we should argue back, he doesn't say to refute them with cool logic and a stony heart. Just don't even engage in that battle. You need that energy and imagination to write, after all.
Yesterday and today I took a zero tolerance approach to excuses. Not in a grim horrible way. I just closed my ears to them, reminded myself I love my story, and I floated off to work.
No one died. I found that I could think, even when I thought I couldn't think. I muddled through the difficult scenes just fine. And I even did the dishes late last night, after my work, and used the time to brainstorm new scenes. Which was very Agatha Christie of me, I thought.
It works. Just give up the excuses. Period. And get back to your good work.
Agree to be creative. Agree to give up every excuse you have ever employed to avoid getting your writing done. -- Eric Maisel