Creative Procrastination

Originally uploaded by Inkygirl

Yes, it’s still the topic of the season…whatever season it may be. I guess some folks may call it Spring Fever these days…though we are definitely having nasty, grey, non-springy weather here. Perfect for staying inside and playing on the web.    And May flowers…

The procrastination dilemma seems to be in the air lately or perhaps it’s all in my mind. [haha] Or is it even “procrastination”? I like the word “synthesizing” that Andrea Goulet used in her comment on my last post. It definitely puts a positive spin on the process. And it offers hope: someday all of the things wrestling in my head will all come together in beautiful harmony as one manifestation… man, i can’t wait. That’s gonna be awesome.
OK, so I’m being a bit facetious, but seriously, I am trying to look at the whole “block vs. flow” thing in a different light. Like I have said before, I really experience both, often simultaneously, and sometimes there’s a fine line, I believe. It can be almost as hard to control the flow as it is to lift the block. I used to feel hopeless and rather pathetic. What kind of “writer” doesn’t write? Or writes and writes and writes, but doesn’t let anyone read it? Or has anxiety attacks when trying to write a query? Well, as it turns out [she said with apparent glee] a whole lot of ’em.

In the last year, since I began focusing on freelance writing as a realistic career choice, I have been amazed, and yes, comforted by the masses of sites and blogs dedicated to writing. Of course, sometimes I feel like a really little fish in a big sea–insignificant. I almost didn’t start this blog, because honestly, we really don’t need another blog to improve the world, do we? But, at the same time, there is strength in numbers. Like I originally said, it is a learning process. Writing here has definitely helped my other writing, or at least it feels like I am producing something, which is better than nothing. And of course, I have found new resources and insights while exploring other blogs.

It was through Writer’s First Aid that I found out about If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, which I promptly ordered through PaperbackSwap. It’s subtitled “A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit” which sounds like my kind of book. This classic writing book, first published in 1938, and now the bestseller at Greywolf Press begins with these words:

Everybody is Talented, Original and Has Something Important to Say

What better pep talk could I get? I am only about half done reading it, but can tell you it is worth checking out if you have any blocks, anxieties or just curiosities about writing. She was also a writing teacher and took pride in helping “ordinary” people find their creative streak. In fact, as she says, this creative spirit can be applied to any career, hobby or interest.

Another great writing “block” book I am reading is Dennis Palumbo’s Writing from the Inside Out (2000). One thing he says that really stuck out for me is simply that the fact that we struggle with these creative feelings means that we are writers. Basically, if we didn’t ever question, worry, criticize, analyze… well, we wouldn’t be writing our best. Or as he puts it:

It’s only by knowing who we are, and accepting this with compassion, that we grow as people–and as writers. Moreover, if some feeling, painful or not, is in us, then it’s in our readers, our audience. The investigation and acceptance of our authentic experience, and our willingness to write from that place, are what make the end result compelling, funny, true.

He is actually a writer and psychotherapist who works on writer’s block issues a lot. I honestly had thought about calling my former therapist and asking if she knew anything about this phenomena before I found Palumbo’s book. Reading is my favorite form of therapy, though, and while it cannot replace real help when needed, I highly recommend it too.

Yes, as much as the web has to offer, I still turn to books. I believe that both of these forms of communication complement each other, rather than hurt each other. It’s easier than ever to get connected, to find publishing information, or to take a class and to explore, browse, play and yes, procrastinate, as well as write. Some of us even manage to do all of the above.  In case I haven’t shared enough diversions, here’s some more, to aid the synthesis process. Take some inspiration from Sherryl Clarke on Books and Writing. She used her downtime from writing her latest novel to create what could possibly be the new Novelist’s Creed. Now that’s creative procrastination…

Which leads me to the so-titled cartoon above that comes from Inkygirl, a blog dedicated to Diversions for Writers, including her amusing comic Will Write For Chocolate, which I believe I found through NaNoWriMo which could only exist on the web. Personally, I am using November as one huge anti-block exercise. After all, i love a good deadline like any procrastinator.