What comes to mind when I read Emma Coats’s Writing Basic #11?
Procrastination about writing, procrastination about everything. We all procrastinate, even when we’re paid not to.
Why do we avoid a start or finish? Lots of reasons, but I suppose the big daddy of them all would be, we avoid doing WORK unless the payoff is more important than the process.
What is work?
You know what work is because you don’t want to do it. If you did, it wouldn’t be work. Fertilizing my lawn is work to me. To my friend Dave, it’s peaceful meditation. So working is doing something that’s drudgery because we’re not inspired while doing it. Something about the action feels empty. It’s not a game. It’s not a puzzle. It’s not interesting and it doesn’t reward us along the way…
UNTIL IT DOES.
Not always, but many times, work turns into pleasure. The writing of words that started out like homework flamed alive and began to mold itself. The process became interesting, entertaining, nurturing.
“What happened?” you ask. “What changed that made this authoring chore an engaging challenge?”
Well, a few things happened. First, you got past the hard stuff – getting your ideas in place and dumping the stuff that didn’t belong. You got past the boring part. And then, while rereading that outline or first draft, you began to see what others might find interesting. And then a notion started to seed.
“Maybe these words actually matter,” you thought. “And if my ideas matter, then I matter.”
Yep, this blogger is at it again. I’m painting the world as the human quest for PURPOSE. Can’t help it. Everything we do starts with the need to feel needed and any work that doesn’t meet that requirement is avoided.
We call that PROCRASTINATION.
That’s why we’re paid to do work. The entire planet rewards itself with money, perks, and vacations when the real reason for doing stuff, our enjoyment, isn’t happening. We do things to FEEL GOOD! And we feel good when we make the world a better place, or at least our own world, as skewed as that might be.
If work doesn’t make us feel good, we do it so we can be happy after work. This fact you know. And you also know that getting paid for what you love is NOT the way most people subsist. And that is sad.
But getting back to Emma. She says: If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
So here’s another question: Why would a perfect idea stay in your head, especially at work? After all, wouldn’t you want to shine on the job? Wouldn’t your manager’s appreciation make your day feel like less work?
Answer: It’s not going down. You know damn well your idea, as noble and perfect as it is, will stop at rung one of the executive ladder. It might even get you in trouble. Management hates the exposure of its flaws. You know this. You know you have no control. You know your job is a drag.
Yes, there are companies that reward excellence coming from the bottom up, but not many. Mediocre managers fail upward as long as they protect their bosses. And those bosses cover for THEIR bosses. The whole business is wrapped in rewarded denial; and while your kids scream rebellion your spouse is advising, “Don’t get involved. Nothing will change.”
You sigh and head for shelter – that private place where you write. If you’re paid for dishonesty, frustration, and domination, there’s still freedom where you live as a Lord of Words.
And now it’s night. You’re in bed facing your laptop, thinking, “Maybe my story isn’t all that great. Maybe I’m deluding myself believing it’s important.”
STOP RIGHT THERE! Your confidence was stolen!
And so distance turns into procrastination ‘cause deep down inside you don’t want to hear, “Those first chapters suck.”
Yep. We’re back to fear-of-failure. So much for your beta readers. You won’t share. Well…maybe you will…when it’s ready…later. Writing has turned back into work.
Now many of you reading this post are published authors so you know what happens when you share – even when it’s not finished, even while doubting your skills. You know what happens when you risk approval, about anything.
When you share your creation (a plot, a painting, a poem), some reader, perhaps three, maybe four, maybe ten, will respond positively to your treasure. And then you will know you are not alone. The things you’ve made are valued by others, even if it’s just one honest opinion stating, “I believe in you.”
This is where we all begin – hearing that first, “I believe in you.” And so, feigning confidence (which will do until we really feel it), we trudge on with whatever our endeavors happen to be. We continue practicing, perfecting, evolving…sharing.
When confidence allows us to express our true selves, we grow. It’s our nature.
I’m still thinking about the movie, Man of Steel and the Superman mythology.
Since I’m again talking about validation as a motivator, it just occurred to me that the most admired people in the world and the heroes of legends are not necessarily the headline makers. There are people who take on sacrifice to help others while avoiding recognition.
Hence, Superman hides in the crowd as Clark Kent. We admire reluctant heroes.
Many teachers are Clark Kent heroes, as well as firefighters, police officers, the clergy, social workers, soldiers, nurses and doctors, domestic help, lawyers, IT engineers…and yes…garbage collectors. The list goes on. If you’re not on it, I apologize.
Everywhere, mostly unnoticed, someone somewhere is doing something special without a thought about personal gain. I bet we all know someone like that, a local hero doing good deeds, hidden in the crowd. Are we writing about them? Yes we are. But we morph them into imaginary characters as if they exist as mere reflections of the human journey. They are real! We forget, or at least I do, that as writers, we too could be real heroes if we just gave up needing validation.
I also forget that a simple act of kindness in a parking lot, or market, or at home in the kitchen does not go unnoticed. I do not have to point it out. And sometimes I forget that sharing my ideas is not about me. It’s about you.
Emma says, “Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it.”
I do that. As I fix my words, I strive to fix myself. There’s never a time when I can’t use improvement. So I expose my thoughts to get better – as an author, as a person.
Sharing for the improvement for all – not a bad reason to write, is it?
Originally published on Curiosityquills.com.