Sudden Comprehension of Writing Failure

I once again find myself struggling to get my weekly blog post up in time. The one I had planned is still a mess. I spent way too long trying to rewrite it from scratch, only to delete every single word. My head is also a mess, partly due to me having a sick day. I was going to take that as an excuse, but after putting off working on this post for the past two days, all I’ve done is set myself up to fail on the day the work is due.

I’ve engineered my own failure simply by falling out of the daily habit. My post/week schedule has often led to me only writing once a week, which is not enough if I’m going to write something weekly worth a damn. A weekly blog post has been a good tangible goal. It’s at least kept me honest, as I’ve not completely failed to deliver so far – even if I’ve got a few in a day late.

However, I’m past the point where just getting it done is good enough. I insist what I post be more than merely passable, which means putting in enough time to not just do a first and final draft, but get a second draft in as well. My first drafts are hot garbage, and cobbling them into something reasonable takes more than one edit – always – and too often I let myself forget this and post something sub-par.

Today’s post is an example of sub-par shit. All I’m doing is berating myself, and posting it in public to hammer it into my head with shame. So, in the interest of writing something useful, here is what I must do to avoid this dilemma in the future (apologies for having to break my one-fuck-per-article rule, but this needs to be said in exactly this way):

  1. Just Fucking Write.
  2. Just Fucking Write Every Fucking Day.
  3. If You Don’t Fucking Feel Like Writing, See Rule Fucking One.

Following this, a direct order from the executive in the top floor of my brain, is the only way I got this much done today. I was reading (in a classic work-avoidance move) an article on the artist Moebius giving advice about training your hand so it obeys you when you sit down to draw. I’ve been doing this when it comes to drawing, but not with writing. This realization, so obvious because I know this, set my brain on fire.

So, there you go. I forced myself to sit down and write this, and it might not be good, but what I sat down to write is a vow that I will do the same tomorrow, and the next day, and so on until I can call myself a writer and not feel like a fraud.

Edit: I’ve figured out exactly how I’m going to do this. I’ve blocked out an hour for writing, every day, in my calendar app. I’m allowed to shuffle this block around the whole day, but I’m not allowed to delete it. If I find the block nudged against midnight, and myself biting my nails waiting for that last hour to pass, I must sit the whole session in front of a blank page and write whatever bullshit comes to me.

In theory, once my brain gets used to the discipline, my brain should be primed to write something better than bullshit – but until then, if only bullshit comes, then bullshit it must be. It just has to be something. I’ve heard enough writers say this works that who am I to argue it won’t work for me if I’ve never tried it.

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Sarah Dimento

The only thing interesting about me is my interest in interesting things – and sometimes I make cool shit.

2 thoughts to “Sudden Comprehension of Writing Failure”

  1. I just figured out that my GLASSES were the problem. I wear multifocals, and it turns out that only a small area near the bottom is available for the right distance to the computer screen, so I hated wearing them to write, but I wasn’t getting things done.

    Finally, the mills of the gods ground out the answer. ON a hunch, I grabbed the cheap pair of reading glasses I keep in my office just in case I’m not wearing my regular ones when I go there – and it completely solved my problem: the whole lens allows me to look at my huge monitor without getting a constant crick in my neck.

    I then proceeded to do about three hours of work without moving from my chair!

    Since I’m getting Pride’s Children, my first, ready for publication, it was baffling to want to work but not be able to focus. Short story: I did a huge chunk of work today, and can go right on to the final editing.

    It’s not always laziness, or illness, or general disorganization. Sometimes it’s as easy (and as hard to diagnose) as something physical that needs fixing.

    I find being kind to myself works way better than swearing at myself. I actually WANT to write.

    1. Little things like that can make a huge difference. I went to the eye doctor, as part of hunting down my migraine triggers, and my sight is fine. I later figured out that half my headaches are caused by too much exposure to high frequency light. I bought a $10 pair of blue-blocking safety goggles, and wearing them for half and hour can makes the pain in my eyeballs disappear. Unfortunately it doesn’t work on a full-blown migraine, but it helps.

      My general problem is a complete lack of discipline, so specifically designating chunks of time to get things done is actually helping. I know that doesn’t always work though, especially if the problem is physical pain or exhaustion.

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