An Open Letter to Those Who Don't Feel Like Writing Right Now
Why aren't you writing? What are you doing surfing the internet, signing into every social media account known to man, just so you can procrastinate a little bit longer? You do realize it's been, like, forty-five minutes since you left your poor protagonist dangling over a cliff... or crying in a heap on the bathroom floor because her boyfriend just dumped her, right? She's waiting for you to finish her story but you're over there googling how old John Stamos is, or what historic thing happened on the day you were born, and while you're at it, you have a few Snapchat streaks you need to keep up with, and why do it later when you can do it now?
Because you're supposed to be writing. Instead, you're reading (or if you're honest, skimming) through this post as a last-ditch effort to procrastinate for two, three, four more minutes, or however long this post ends up being.
I get it. I really do. I'm not here to judge. It's so easy to let your mind roam. Come up from the ocean of your imagination for air, because as beautiful as it is beneath the surface, you start to feel breathless after a while. You start to lose circulation. Your fingers turn blue, and the water pressure saturates your brain like a sponge.
All you need is a second to breathe. A moment to cough the water--the doubt, the frustration, the confusion--from your lungs and bask on the shore in the warm, mid-afternoon light.
Even as I write this post, I stop to eat a pack of chocolate wavers and watch Josh Allen run the ball into the endzone for a touchdown (go Bills!).
There's no shame in sitting on the shore for a while, catching your breath. In fact, it can be good for you. Writing a book is hard. It takes brainpower and emotional energy and problem-solving abilities.
But there is such thing as sitting on the shore for too long. You may feel pleasantly drowsy and relaxed, but your thighs start to burn and flake off in the sun, perhaps without you even knowing.
I'm here to tell you to get back in that water. Take a deep breath and keep on writing, even when it hurts. Even when you're straining to figure out how your protagonist recovers from the edge of that cliff, or how your heroine scrambles to her feet and sets foot in the world as a single woman, perhaps for the first time in years.
You're going to figure it out, okay? You're going to answer those questions. If you look back at what you've written so far, maybe you'll find that you already have. That it was there the whole time, lingering beneath the surface of your conscious mind. It was hidden beneath the way she carried herself of made decisions or reacted to everything happening around her, good and bad. It's the reason she's afraid of being alone.
Trust your intuition. It's the reason this draft has turned out the way it has so far. You're letting your imagination lead the way, show you the story you may not be able to grasp with two hands yet because it feels so intangible right now.
Your story will take shape when you write without inhibition. It may look like an unruly mess right now, but the more material you produce, the more you'll see when you sit back and look at it with a distant, critical eye. You'll start to connect the dots.
The longer you procrastinate, the longer your muscles, your creative instincts, will atrophy. So close out of this post. Shut off your phone. Close the door. And start writing.
Oh, and John Stamos is fifty-seven years old. I knew you were wondering.