Like most writers I know, I find the hardest thing about writing is sitting down to write. Even though I turn my computer on the moment I wake up, I don't immediately chain myself to it in order to churn out a few thousand words. Far from it! I'm compelled to reply to my new e-mails before even thinking of doing anything else. (Long gone were the inspirational days when I sat down first thing at my screen, too immersed in my work to change out of my dressing gown for the rest of the day). Even though I always intend to routinely sit down at my desk daily at 9 a.m. I shall do anything to put off the evil hour of having to write.
First, I convince myself how messy my office is, even though I tidied it yesterday. I persuade myself I can't work in a tip, and find myself compulsively spring-cleaning my room, even resorting to fanatically taking my books off the shelf, and carefully dusting each one. After I've finished my polishing and cleaning, I realise my desk looks like a bomb has hit it. A dishevelled pile of printed out A 4 sized paper is desecrating my printer's out-tray. I meant to throw them away yesterday, but anal-retentive 'intuition' stopped me. Even though I've got my work saved on my computer and my external hard drive, I carefully read through each page, so that I can focus on it afresh, knowing that my work looks different on the page. Who knows? I might get inspired.
I then congratulate myself for being creative, for reading through the printed out pages which I was supposed to destroy yesterday, gives me fragmented ideas. I laboriously jot them down with my new pen in my pristine new notebook for a future project I have been thinking about for years.
Once I have managed to bin all the loose paper on my newly polished desk, I sharpen and neatly arrange all my pencils. Then, after I have finished wiping clean my printer, my scanner and most important of all, my keyboard, I am ready for work. There is nothing to stop me now.
I open my document on the screen and before I even look at it, I suddenly remember I have to make some ?important? phone calls and simultaneously send out some more e-mails. After I finish my multi-task, I realise with a heavy heart, there is nothing to stop me from writing now, but silly me! I haven't concealed the Dock on my screen, which means I can see all my new incoming e-mails (replies to mine), which I'm compelled to respond to straightaway. If I leave them, I shall have to make a mental note to respond to them later. And, that wouldn't be good for my thought process. I need a clear head to 'create'.
Finally, I really am ready to write, but first, I'm compelled to re-edit my document on the screen before I can progress. By now, it's lunch-time and although I have cancelled all my appointments for the entire week so that I can comfortably meet my deadline, I remind myself I need some fresh air, and sustenance.
After my break, I persuade myself I don't do my best work in the afternoon, so lounge around reading yesterday's newspaper and replying to posts on my favourite computer mailing list. (Thankfully, I'm not hooked on surfing the web like some of my peers). By this time, the entire day has gone.
Even though I know that staying up all night isn't good for me, I'm forced to become nocturnal. I'm resigned to settling in for the long night ahead and actually sit down at my desk in order to write. I'm so relieved that I am finally focusing on my work, I just have to Skype a writer friend who I see is On Line. I ecstatically inform him I'm working. We then fall into a lengthy, philosophical discussion about the perils of writing, before we both click off, insisting we must concentrate.
I now have run out of excuses. By this time, it's the early hours and after replying to a few desperados on my mailing list, I now know I have no alternative, but to work. My deadline is for tomorrow morning and with relief, I proceed to write solidly without further procrastination.
I am so elated when I finally finish my deadline, I delude myself that I love writing, conveniently forgetting I shall no doubt, have to re-write and polish the new draft again and again and again.
Copyright: Frances Lynn 2006
Frances Lynn is a professional writer and journalist. Her two novels, "Frantic" and "Crushed" are published in e-book, paperback and hardback by Eiworth Publishing. http://franceslynn.org