attribution is unclear) said that writing is easy--you just sit down and open a vein. Raymond Chandler put it this way: "I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, inspiration strikes at 9 AM each day." James Scott Bell sets a daily word count, and starts his morning by writing three hundred fifty words. Habits of writers differ, but most of us have one thing in common. Given the opportunity, we'll put off writing.
When my middle son, Brian, was doing sound for our church's youth choir, he coined what he termed Lovell's Law (named for the choir director, who is--incidentally--a great guy): "Never put off 'till tomorrow what you can completely ignore 'till the last minute." Some of my former colleagues on the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center faculty used to wait until the last minute to prepare book chapters and lectures. They functioned best under the pressure of deadlines.
I have an office. Admittedly, it's a small one, but it's a nice place where I can sit down at the computer and write. I've even purchased writing software that makes it easier to shuffle scenes around and clarify my ideas. And I have a pretty nice idea for my next book. But still I find myself putting off sitting down to write.
I've thought a bit about why writers procrastinate. Many of them have other things to do. Sometimes it's another job, because most writers don't earn enough to depend on it as their sole source of income. Sometimes it's family responsibilities. And there are times, admittedly, when we just don't want to work. But there's yet another factor, one I'll admit plays a role: fear.
I'm fortunate to have nine novels and two novellas in print. So-called "traditional" publishers have awarded me contracts. My two self-published novellas are doing well. My novels of medical suspense have garnered great reviews, some have won contests and appeared on best-seller lists. But, like most authors, I want my next one to be even better.
The fear that creeps up on me on a regular basis is that the next one won't be as good as my previous novels. I won't get good reviews. The book won't sell. Besides that, I may not even have a contract for publication, and I don't know if I'm ready to self-publish a full-length novel. Am I through as a writer? So I put off writing.
There you have it. Am I a procrastinator? Or is this a normal emotion? Do you think this emotion is confined to writers? Let me know in the comments. And one commenter (who remembers to leave their email address) will receive a signed copy of my novel, Miracle Drug. So let me hear from you.
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