An Open Letter to Lazy Writers

I’m one of you, and we experience online writing culture a little differently, don’t we?


In which I ruminate on laziness in the writing world. 

Writing isn’t a job. It’s less, and somehow more. It’s an interior universe that’s vast, varied and rich as sand grains under a microscope. But wordsmithing is also small enough and personal enough to form a fingerprint.

But when you’re lazy, like me, it can be more comfortable to imagine yourself when the writing’s all done. The editing stage, usually a bloody mess, seems like a balm because the work, unspooling all those thoughts that knot together restlessly, feels like too much trouble.

If you’re like me, you’re troubled by all the Internet advice to just barf up your first drafts as fast as possible, you’re not alone. I have a very real fear that I’ll bury whatever story I was hoping to write under a pile of word-chunks and half-chewed sentence-corn. (You’re welcome.)

Laziness Is Fear With Pants

Shanan’s Immutable Laziness Law: There’s always something underneath the laziness.

For me, it’s consistently fear.

I manage to waste all the time in the world (between writing the intro to this blog post and writing this paragraph right here, I went to the Cards Against Humanity subreddit and somehow, half an hour went by). But as soon as I contemplate a new topic, plotting a new story, researching a new subject, I get all miserly with the number of my days. I think, “Well, that idea is a risk. And I’ll be upset if I put all this work into something that doesn’t pan out.”

How I manage to still be a writer around this fear is by working on assignment, which isn’t facing the fear of wasting time, not really.

Pulling Through Laziness

Haha. You thought I’d actually have a solution to laziness? You’re adorable.

I haven’t figured out how to fix fear-motivated laziness for more than a few days at a time. And even then, I only fix it with more fear: fears of deadlines, of missing blog posting days, end of reading periods. I guess being a writer is a bit scary, no? ::nods:: You already knew that. Ok. I’m catching up.

But there is an antidote to laziness, an easy kind of well-oiled confidence that just shifts from Day Job to Writing, from repose to motion, without a lot of shifting, grumbling or fretting. It comes over time, on the wings of a deep pile of rejection letters, cushioned by reams of half-finished works-in-progress.

It ain’t a solution, but it’s a light at the end of a tunnel. And that’s still pretty good.

Don’t Get Upset at Your Laziness

The least-productive any of us can be, is being mad at ourselves for what we didn’t do yesterday, or what we continue to not be motivated to do. Try and remove your emotions from the situation and just keep coming back to your writing chair and sitting down. Keep treating it like a job, like an appointment you have to keep. Even if you don’t get a heck of a lot done. Just keep showing up. Even if there’s more #notwriting than #amwriting going on during your writing sessions, you’re keeping up the habit. Hugely important.

You’ll still feel lazy. But like we’ve discussed before, your feelings are stupid, and you’re still getting some stuff done!

Are you feeling lazy this summer? 

What’s underneath your laziness? Fear? Busyness? (Or is it laziness all the way down?)

What do you do when you’re worried you’re wasting your time on a work in progress?

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