The Biggest Lie Aspiring Writers Believe

There’s definitely a line that separates aspiring writers from their writing-and-publishing compatriots. It’s not money. It’s not a book deal or an MFA degree. It’s not dedication, or even talent.

Well, what is it?

Credit: www.stockmonkeys.com
Credit: www.stockmonkeys.com

I’m a writer, but I’m what you could call an “aspiring exerciser.” My morning routine consists, as I’ve written before, of a cup of coffee first, then writing, then an allotted time spent exercising. Guess which one falls off the list the most often?

Exercise. Whoopsie.

Two mornings ago, I finally figured out why, despite over a year of this morning routine, and despite having the same goal (“run every day”) for nearly five years, I was still aspiring to exercise. Ready? Here it is.

I kept waiting to want to.

I know. I know. I’ve already done a post about why your feelings are stupid. (Had I even read it?) “I don’t feel like it” is simply the Siamese twin of “I’ll just sit here and watch the sunrise for five more minutes. I’ll want to exercise if I just wait five more minutes.”

Switch “exercise” with “write,” and you’ve got the biggest lie aspiring writers tell themselves.

Do you do this when you write, or aspire to write?

Let’s say your life is complicated right now. You have young children that zap your energy until about 8pm, when the oldest one has (usually) hit the sack. By then, you’re ready to sit on the couch with a glass of wine or zone out in front of the TV. So you wait. You prop your laptop up on the table beside you, and say, “After this commercial, I’ll start.” Or, “Once I finish this glass of wine, I’ll jump into writing.”

Or maybe you take the train into the city for work, and you keep meaning to write while you’re en route, but you keep nodding off, or putting it off, until you hear your stop being announced over the PA system. Every morning, the same thought hits you: Now, it’s too late. Better luck next time. 

What you’re really waiting on is for that first step to not feel so difficult. Here’s a secret: First steps are always difficult, whether you wait one commercial break or for five years (like I did, which I talk about here).

It’s time to stop waiting and start writing.

Just like in “Your Feelings Are Stupid,” I have no real, concrete answers for why you might have succumbed to this “wait to want to” disease. All I know is that if you plug in a different response to that urge, you’ll get a different result. So instead of waiting five more minutes when that lazy little voice says “Just five more minutes,” take action. Stand up. Open a Word document. Mute the TV. No, self, you’re not getting five minutes. The time to write is now. 

Procrastination can come in many forms. What’s your worst form of procrastination? (Mine’s the Snooze button.) Share it in the comments.