I’ve noticed one amazing thing about myself and other writers who claim to want to write more than anything else. Something odd takes over, and we fill the free time of our lives with all kinds of non-writing activities. We reach for things that make us feel good, that quell any anxiety we might be feeling, or at least keep us occupied.
What fills our lives–what quells our anxiety–can be either positive or negative. The activity we choose can be either a pacifier or a catalyst.
What’s the Outcome?
Activities that fall under the heading of “pacifiers” are things like mindless TV viewing, complaining about the sad state of publishing to all your writing friends, eating mass amounts of comfort food, surfing the Net, playing video games, or shopping till you drop.
Nothing good (for your writing career) comes from any of those activities. They serve simply as pacifiers, something to make the whining, fretful baby in us be quiet. But are we then any closer to our writing goals? No, not at all. We’ve simply passed some time–writing time that we can’t get back.
Positive Time Fillers
As I asked in the opening, what if you’re tired of your non-writing rut, but you can’t seem to crawl out of it either? What can you fill your free time with instead of a pacifier activity? Why not try a catalyst instead? It’s your choice. A catalyst is a springboard for change, something that nudges you in a better direction. The next time you feel anxious about your writing and want to fill your time with something to soothe the fear, why not try a positive change agent?
Activities that fall into the catalyst category might include:
- watching an inspiring movie
- spending time with a writing mentor or coach
- reading an inspirational book or self-help writing book
- listening to motivational tapes on an MP3 player
- reading a biography or watching a documentary about someone you admire (especially another writer)
- reading a current copy of The Writer or Writer’s Digest
- attending a writing conference, retreat or workshop
Think Ahead–Then Choose
We all feel anxious sometimes to the point of being stuck. That’s okay. Just be aware that there are activities that only pacify the fear (and waste your time)–but there are also enjoyable activities that can act as catalysts to get you writing. Choose the activity that is going to propel you forward, not help you stagnate even further.
We all have our favorite catalysts. Mine include reading inspirational writing books or writing articles I’ve saved over the years, Skyping with another author about writing issues, or watching a movie about authors (like Becoming Jane, Cross Creek, Finding Forrester, Finding Neverland, or Miss Potter).
What is your favorite pacifier–and what’s the effect on your writing? On the positive side, what is your most helpful catalyst and its effect on your writing? Please share some ideas that work best for you.