Tuesday was painful. Really painful. It was painful because I deliberately cleared my schedule of all possible distractions so that I could work on my novel. I told myself that I only had one thing to achieve that day; to work on my novel. If I didn’t write a blog post, fine. If I didn’t do the washing up – also fine. If I didn’t go to the gym, fine again. But if it got to 5pm and I hadn’t done anything with my novel, then I was going to be in some serious shit. With myself.
That’s right. There’s no arse-kicker tougher than yourself – not if you’re me. No one kicks my arse harder than I do, no one is more guilt inflicting and self-punishing than I am when I’ve skipped out on working.
And so on Tuesday I really had to kick my arse. Because I had told myself to get up early and start work on my novel, and that I had no excuse not to. But when it came to it, the prospect of getting back into my novel after leaving it for so long was not in any way appealing. I sensed the hard work ahead of me and immediately became work-shy.
Then I was in a constant battle with myself for the entirety of the day. Somewhere between the good intentions and getting up at 8am and having my first cup of coffee things went seriously awry and by the time 10am came around, all I had done was flick between a blank MS Word document and my web browser -browsing for… anything on Amazon, and staring at my very empty email inbox.
This was the first wave of guilt, and once it hit, I disconnected myself from the internet. If I couldn’t trust me to have internet access and not use it while I was working, then I wouldn’t be allowed access to it at all.
So I removed my dongle and hid it in a box.
Then I got back to work. And I wrote three words. Then I stared out of the window. And then I deleted those three words. And then I stared out of the window. Then I made myself a coffee.
And by the time I’d drunk my coffee, I still hadn’t written anything. And so I sighed and told an empty room how difficult it is to write a novel.
Then I sulked.
And then I swirled around in my Captain’s Chair a few times to cheer myself up. And then I wrote a sentence.
Then I stared out of the window again.
Then I made some lunch and I read my sentence while I ate lunch.
And I decided it wasn’t a very good sentence. So after lunch, I deleted it.
The day went on like this – I had to constantly wrestle myself back into my chair and keep my fingers affixed to the keyboard until typing happened and words started appearing on screen. I was close to tears by the time I had tapped out my first paragraph, but I told myself to keep going – that the hard part was over. Eventually I got back into the swing of it and by mid-afternoon I was working on a new chapter.
It was exhausting. I felt like I’d actually had to beat it out of myself – and not just metaphorically speaking.
I never realised this before, but the reason I procrastinate so much is because I dread this initial stage of writing so much that I’ll do anything to get myself out of it. Even though my intentions are good, (I’ll get up early and start work on my novel) my enthusiasm for writing is at an all time low, and I’ll happily do anything else instead.
Trying to get into the flow of writing without absolutely loathing every single word written and getting immediately frustrated after tapping out a sentence is teeth-gnashingly annoying. And it only gets worse over time. The longer I leave working on my novel, the worse I am at getting back into it.
After 3000 hours of dragging myself kicking and screaming back to my desk, I got to the end of my new chapter and I realised that I’d given the story a whole new direction to go in.
And after thinking about this little breakthrough, I decided to completely scrap another three chapters. And replace them with new ones. And change the order of the last third of the book.
Nice work, me.
Essentially, I gave me lots more work to do. Which is kind of a bummer, but at least I’ve made some progress and that sticking point I’ve been on for the last… six months, is finally coming unstuck.
Well, maybe not completely unstuck, but significantly less adhesive than it was before.