As and when I peel myself away from the pleasures and distractions of too much entertaining content that is available to me at my fingertips, I will be looking back with a lot of regret and remorse.
I will be lamenting on precious time irretrievably lost. Time I could have used productively and efficiently to accomplish a handsome body of work as a writer. Time I could have used to wrap up and birth books that would have made a difference. Time I could have employed to add my distinct voice to the world of words and wisdom.
In the way, I disuse and misuse time, I see a pattern. There is a structure to this madness, however counteractive it may be.
Here are the ten worst ways I become my own nemesis, conceding easy defeat in the battle of my wordy waterloo.
I wait for inspiration as if I am waiting for Godot.
You can tune into the right music, you can stare at beautiful works of art, you can talk to your plants, and you can distract your present mood with cooking or singing or washing in order to reset it to the mood required for writing.
You can do all of the above and take the long, treacherous road.
Or you can sit down at your desk at the assigned time, and even the unscheduled one. Open up your document, stare at the blank screen, read back the already written paragraphs, and see the muse come and sit by your side.
Instead of creating a butterfly syndrome and expecting it to come flittering around to sit atop your shoulder, inspiration must be dredged out from a place within. Sometimes gently, at other times perforce!
J K Rowling wrote her most famous book while being on dole, sitting in a noisy coffee shop with her baby in a stroller parked by her side.
If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
– Edgar Rice Burroughs
“You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
― Jodi Picoult
With heightened traits of OCD and Perfectionism, I am forever digging my own grave.
For writing poetry, I must be in a sombre mood. For working on my Book on Grief, I must be both maudlin and forlorn. For my current project – a book with an underlying paranormal theme, I must not and cannot write during nights……you get the drift. If this were not enough, then I cannot write when the Housekeeper comes asking a zillion questions or when the day maid is at work or my fur baby needs attention or the garden calls me out.
Keeping myself entangled in a million worldly things, I keep motivation at bay, almost pushing it out of the periphery of my mind.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”
“Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is only a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up.”
– Jane Yolen
Of course, I will write and complete my book; one day. But I will do it once I am finished with the pile of newspaper cuttings and magazines I have to read.
Or after I have concluded two recordings for my YouTube channel!
Or once I have ticked off most of the work on my To-do list.
Or done some solid reading, which had been put off too for some time!
Or at least finished watching three seasons of the hit web series that has been lurking on my mind!
Or relax my nerves by bursting balloons for the nth time on my handheld device.
Or I will get back to the Book when I have finished a few articles for a handful of publications I represent.
Procrastination, I contend, must be designated a malaise.
“Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
“You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
What mood is that? Last-minute panic!”
- Being my own worst enemy
Every writer is known to harbour self-doubt and wrestle with low self-esteem. But the trick is not to let them become your bedfellows. Going down to the abysmal, ‘do I write well enough,’ ‘would people like to read it,’ or ‘this is not my best writing’ and so on, I continue to be self-deprecating and pull myself down. And then a reader or two or more comment that my writings remind them of Murakami and Ruskin Bond! Some have gone on to say Thomas Hardy even.
I call these Shiva Slaps – the divine intervention to jolt me back into sense and business.
“Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it’s the only way you can do anything really good.”
“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
- Apples and Oranges
Both are delightful fruits, each with their unique value and purpose. Or roses and sunflowers! Each breathtakingly beautiful, each with its own raison d’être, each with its own place in the world!!
Yet, by drawing comparisons with the old and the new, I shoot down prospects of writing and finishing my own magnum opus that stands a chance to be a winner too.
“Don’t forget— no one else sees the word the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories you have to tell.”
Charles de Lint.
“The only writer to whom you should compare yourself is the writer you were yesterday.”