Calling all inner James Deans!
Pssst. If you’re itching to play hooky from writer’s block…he’s in you somewhere. And I penned this post for you. Why?
Because in this post, I tell the tale of how a topsy-turvy writing day – filled with rebellion – saved a blog post and can help you, too.
Wanna read it?
A topsy-turvy tale of rebellion
One morning I slept through my 3 alarms and lost over an hour of a 4-hour – no room to wiggle – writing block. In the past I’d leap out of bed and over to my laptop to clot the time-hemorrhage.
Stress-induced mishaps like misbrewed coffee, an overtaxed delete key and misplaced content often peppered these sessions. Yet, by zero hour I’d manage to wrangle my prose into submission.
In other words I’d do my best to honor the rule that prompted W. Somerset Maugham to say, “I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”
So, I’d plant my butt in the chair and do the work. Yet, on this morning…
I moseyed into the kitchen to brew coffee. While monitoring the drip, I asked my cat, Chouli – who I’m convinced is my muse in physical form – “Muse, what will we write today?”
“I’m out of kibble,” she meowed and walked away – leaving me all by myself for the day.
No worries, I only needed to reel in this runaway blog post featuring 5 classic kid books. My task?
Tighten the book descriptions and their block ditching tips from 35-hundred words to 15-hundred before 10:30 a.m.
T-minus 2 hours and 30 minutes
As I reached for Chouli’s bowl, an idea hit me on how to tighten a book description that had ballooned to more words than the book itself. I sprinted to my laptop and shortened it from 500 to 100 words. Awesome!
Back to coffee and feeding my muse.
Done. Now what?
Spring clean my makeup bag. Was time standing still?
Nope. But that bag wasn’t going to clean itself.
As I tossed leaky foundation and a 2-year old mascara, the fix for the post’s run-on intro hit me. Again, I raced to my laptop and merrily slashed 90% of my darling of an open.
Huh?! Killing my darlings always hurts. A lot! What’s going on?
Clock’s ticking…no time to ponder…
T-minus 2 hours
On my way back to my makeup project, I detoured to the kitchen to whip up a batch of muffins. I sprinted to my laptop twice to tighten two more runaway book descriptions.
And I fixed some block-ditching tips that weren’t working while the muffins baked…then burned. Oops! But totally worth it.
T-minus 45 minutes and 200 words to cut
I aired out my apartment, vacuumed, took out the trash and wrapped up that makeup bag project. Oh and hit my laptop three more times to tighten copy.
Zero hour and…
My post was 2,000 words lighter and ready for one last read-through before clicking “publish” the next morning.
And I estimate I spent maybe 40 minutes of that 2-and-a-half hour time block in front of my laptop.
Crazy! How could I bypass frenzy and float through my morning like the heroine at the beginning of a Disney flick?
I pondered this while getting ready to head out for the day. Luckily, the answer hit me.
I jotted it down and turned it into the post you’re reading right now. Magic! Sooooo….
What was different that day?
A simple explanation
I watched a Ted Talk the night before – not just any Ted Talk, but Inside The Mind of A Master Procrastinator. In it Tim Urban exposes the inner-workings of procrastinators. My people!
Urban’s message must have marinated in my head overnight and grabbed hold of my subconscious.
On that fairytale morning I didn’t fight procrastination. I relaxed and worked with it. This freed my kid-self to mold my mess of a blog post into something worthy of sharing with you.
I’m not a procrastinator by choice. And I’m not lazy. It’s my head. Since the first time I put pen to paper, the right words have never revealed themselves until the last possible nano-second. Every time!
Knowing this, I throw time at a project every day and hope it will come together by deadline. But…
I’ve never fully trusted that it will.
That is until the morning after that Ted Talk.
Note to self and my Write 50 crew
During my topsy-turvy session I rebelled against 2 beyond popular block-ditching strategies:
- Just plant your butt in the chair and do the work: Okay. But how do I stop that feeling of being forced into that chair from stifling my creativity?
- Focus on one thing: This works…for brainstorming, freewriting or avoiding that wiki-rabbit-hole that leads to researching things like the history of history. BUT how do I stop this from causing empty-mind syndrome during a project’s crucial editing phase?
Rebelling against this advice worked because:
- My writing session involved tightening a project. Theme and structure were already in place.
- I worked with my true self not against it. As much as I want to be the free spirit who’s struck by inspiration every morning from 7 to noon, this isn’t realistic. A shorter time block and low-key multitasking unlocked my creativity.
Bottom line? I work best when my adult-self pulls materials together – structure, research, theme, early drafts – and then hands them over to my kid-self to mold into something publishable. And most importantly trust her multi-tasking methods.
Over to you…
What common productivity advice are you wrestling with?
How can you rebel against this and work with your true self instead of against it?
I double-dog dare you to share your thoughts with the Write 50 crew in the comments section below. Your comment enters you in a drawing for a free Ditch The Block game, your choice.
Tim Urban’s Ted Talk: Inside The Mind of A Master Procrastinator
A playbook and game that challenges you to self-coach yourself through your writing blocks
Write 50’s Ticking Time 7-Day Challenge