Recently I’ve been having a lot of trouble staying on task. I’m approaching the end of the book (or at least the end of the first draft), but for some reason it’s become really hard to run this last lap.
For help, I looked to Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, which was rated reasonably high on Goodreads. It had a bit of advice which every writer has heard before. I paraphrase: “Treat it like a job. Show up every day. Don’t miss a day because of your other responsibilities; people in other industries work those in around their jobs, not vice versa.”
And it had a bit of advice I hadn’t heard before. Paraphrase: “Go ahead and be miserable. Take pride in it. Be proud to say, ‘Yeah, I stuck it out in front of that keyboard, and it was a rotten, rotten, rotten day, but the work’s done.’ ”
Now, for me this was a novel thought. Most of my efforts toward improving my work output have had to do with making myself happier at work, with making it a less painful process. Maybe I’d be happier with some cocoa. Maybe I’d be happier with a change of scenery. Maybe I’d be happier in the morning/afternoon/evening.
You wouldn’t think it’d be so hard to be happy while fulfilling my lifelong ambition and dream, would you? And yet, so it is. There’s the fear, for one thing. The fear that what I’m writing won’t be good enough/successful/long enough/brilliant/worthy/etc. And then there’s the fact that while spinning story ideas is fun, cranking them out on the page is often just hard work.
So I like the idea of embracing misery. It has a sort of macho, hardnosed appeal. The idea that it’s ok to just sit down, and let the fear wash over me, and still Not. Get. Up.
Anyway, I’ll be trying misery on for the next few weeks. At least until I get these final scenes cranked out. And if it works, who knows? I might be miserable for the rest of my life!