I had big plans. A blog post, followed by at least a few thousand words to punch through the dreaded middle section of my work-in-progress. The conditions should’ve been perfect. It was overcast (rain = writing). The husband and teenager were out of the house (no requests for food). Daughter had a friend over (plenty of food hoarded in her room, facials and nails to be done, iMovies to be made). I’d finished reading the latest book (no more excuses).
The blinking cursor drove me nuts after a while. I had nothing. No, really, NOTHING.
Seemed like all my writerly friends on Instagram were being productive, providing proof of their work with high-angle pictures of laptops and coffee and taunts of #amwriting. Others were busy on Facebook sharing all manner of inspiring quotes by famous writers and must-read blog posts about what publishers really want. It took quite a while to check out what everyone else was up to. They all seemed so motivated, so chipper and hopeful, loving their #writerslife, while here I was, struggling to string some words together.
I was onto my second coffee of the morning by the time I’d gone through the usual social media checks when it struck me. I hadn’t posted anything in ages. I’d been in a fog, so consumed by the achingly beautiful writing in A Little Life that I’d neglected sharing. So I snapped a picture of the dog who was looking me with a look of resignation (or was it accusation?) and popped it on Instagram with what I hoped was a jaunty sounding #dogsofinstagram #writerswithdogs followed by the guilty disclaimer #procrastinating.
Enough of the distractions and back to the task at hand. I was more determined than ever to get cracking.
The re-reading of the last paragraph I’d written took longer than expected. It was rubbish. After 20 minutes of re-writing I was back to the blinking cursor. The rain outside was falling steadily, the drumming on the tin roof a reminder (so obvious!) that lately I’d been neglecting my personal commitment to be more mindful. I took some time out to listen to the constant rhythm noticing, as I stared of the window, how the muted light made the garden an iridescent green. As I was posting a quick pic (#nofilt #mindfulness #procrastinating) a nasty idea offered itself up to me. If that last paragraph was such garbage, maybe the rest of it, months of writing, was just as bad.
I nervously scrolled all the way back to Chapter 1 (breaking the rule of reading the first draft before it’s finished) when my phone buzzed with a notification. The daughter, tucked away with her friend, liked my photo of the dog. There were a couple of new posts by writers mocking me with #amwriting #writerslife. Over at Facebook, at the top of my feed, was a link: Why Your First Draft Is NOT Crap. Timely? Or was someone monitoring my #procrastinating pleas for help?
OK, so there was lots of positive cheerleading and by the end of the post I was reminded of a pragmatic piece of advice from author Allison Tait: just finish the damn book. Yes @allistontaitwriter, you’re correct, despite the #writingcrisis of the day I will #finishthedamnbook. Tomorrow.