One Bite at a Time

Time gets away from you while your back is turned. We’re already three weeks into 2019 and I’m already miles behind where I want to be. I have at least three short stories in variously unfinished states. I have a story I wrote back in 2017 long overdue for editing. I promised a couple of book reviews to friends. I have a newsletter to prepare.

Oh, and I put myself on the hook to write a novel this year. I haven’t started it yet.

What prompted this bout of self-recriminatory checklisting noticing that I haven’t written a single blog post here since later October. While I am pleased not to have missed a weekly #fridayflashfiction post, three months is a long time for me to go without publically musing on the state of my writing work.

I suspect many contributing elements; exhaustion, stress and Australia’s increasingly off-the-charts summer heat are among them. (It’s crazy-hot here at the moment, folks).

Really though, it all comes back to one thing: resistance. I’ve been putting off breaking soil on the novel for several months now. I’ve told myself to get all the other niggling jobs out of the way, so there’s nothing to distract me from the Big Project for 2019.

Clear the decks. Sweep away the distractions. Something something Marie Kondo probably.

Yeah, nah.

My cunning strategy to demolish all niggling sources of procrastination has failed on two counts: one, I just procrastinated on the small stuff instead; and two, new small stuff emerged.

In retrospect it should have been obvious this was a terrible idea. I keep waiting for a big chunk of free time that I can commit to a big project, but it’s a delusional notion. A windfall of spare time isn’t coming any time soon, and pleasant daydreams don’t write books.

Waiting for a break in the weather is just another stalling tactic. It’s an almost perfect expression of procrastination: “I’m definitely going to do the thing. I just need to get off to a good start.”

Note to self: the only good start is the one that happens, not the one that will happen.

As soon as I post this email, I’m going to open a Scrivener file and type the first sentence of the first draft of my new novel. And, after that, I’ll type the next sentence. I’ll fit them in between whatever else I have to do.

And if I keep doing that every chance I get, I’ll have something to show for it beside apologetic blog posts.

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