OK, Balzac worked around the clock and drank only coffee.
But we’re interested in staying alive during your entire writing career. No burn-outs allowed.
Here are the beliefs of workaholics:
• Work as infinite and insatiable
• Work requires deprivation and sacrifice.
• Work protects me from scary intimacy.
In his wonderful book on procrastination, The Now Habit, Neil Fiore says play is necessary to writing and all creative endeavors. Play get us to unwind and write more comfortably. Certainly if we saw our writing as divine play, the doubts would disappear.
Fiore says we suffer from three major blocks– the fear of being overwhelmed, the fear of failure and the fear of not finishing the work. He has a plan for getting around these blocks. I also found sitting with the fears in meditation helped and if that didn’t get rid of it, I use EMDR or rapid eye therapy.
Fiore suggests that we get cope with the fear of being overwhelmed by encouraging us to start anywhere and start writing. Also schedule enough time– writers often thinking they can get more done that is possible. Fight the thought “I should be finished.”
He shows us a reverse calendar– buy the book.
He also has us to destroy the fears by asking cognitive therapy questions like “what’s the worst that can happen? What alternatives do I have?”
To get free, Fiore suggests that we work for a half-hour a day and the rest of the time, play for at least one hour a day. Soon, we find ourself chafing at the bit, wanting to write more.
I can vouch for this. I am doing morning pages that Julia Cameron suggests in her many books, including the one that made her a star, The Artist’s Way. The assignment, write three pages when you first rise in the morning. I was skeptical and refused to do the pages– until a month ago. I figured I had nothing to lose and the writing in my journal didn’t satisfy me.
Part of the morning pages is to limit the writing to three pages, writing as fast a we can. After two weeks, I grabbed my journal and wrote for most of the next day. That makes it easier to write this site.
It’s making writing fun again– a relief again, like when I was an adolescent.
Don’t let anyone see these pages. Burn them if you have to. During my catastrophic divorce, my ex read my journals and picked fights and used them to justify her acting out. I couldn’t write a journal for years. I also hid my poetry. She used to say when she couldn’t get centered, she would read one of my poems. I was so angry, I swore she would never read another one. That, of course, makes it impossible to publish so I revoked the vow.
But the morning pages swept all of that aside and I am writing. So I know that used the technique that Fiore suggests, the half-hour only will get you writing like nothing else!