By Vicki H. Moss
On occasion I reread books. Especially books on writing. If you haven’t read Steven Pressfield’s book The WAR of ART, put it on your bucket list. The Foreword alone by Robert McKee is worth the time. McKee says:
“Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art for me. He undoubtedly wrote it for you too but I know he did it expressly for me because I hold Olympic records for procrastination. I can procrastinate thinking about my procrastination problem. I can procrastinate dealing with my problem of procrastinating thinking about my procrastination problem. So Pressfield, that devil, asked me to write this foreword against a deadline, knowing that no matter how much I stalled, eventually I’d have to knuckle down and do the work.”
As I read McKee’s foreword, I realized that I’d once mopped my floors to keep from writing. I detest housework. But found myself once again cleaning window sills to keep from opening my laptop. I also detest cleaning window sills.
It’s not that I have writers block, I simply sometimes tend to procrastinate until I can finally make myself focus on the writing business at hand. To verbally manhandle some of my words before I key them out.
And some think writing is so easy. Until one sits down to do it. And sometimes writing can be easy. When in the zone. But other times, an article has to be well thought out with research. Lots of research. Or a chapter has to be reworked because it’s just not working.
So several years ago, knowing this about myself—how I sometimes resist and procrastinate, I was asked to be a pundit for a newspaper. Yikes! Deadlines and word count issues. I asked how many words. The answer: “Write whatever you want.” What about deadlines? “Just send us an article when you get one written.”
Lucky me. No pressure. The kind of writing I love best. I saw this being a pundit business as an opportunity to make myself buckle down and hammer out a body of work. Nervous about a weekly deadline, I now decided to set one for myself. I’d have an article written to send in every Friday. And I’d hold my feet to the fire.
What I discovered was that by setting a deadline for myself, I wrote more. By writing for a newspaper, I learned more. Wielding the pen became easier. I no longer procrastinated as frequently. I fell into a routine or sorts. The resistance to write wasn’t as fierce. Steven Pressfield writes about resistance in The War of Art:
Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless fight we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.
Truth. So fight it. Resist. Stop procrastinating. Get that body of work out.