And so it happens: you sit at your computer, primed and ready for a day’s work. Your steaming cup of tea sits next to your computer, the sun has not yet risen in the early morning hours, candles are lit, and mood music is on. You pull up your latest work and stare at the screen. Maybe you read the words from the day before. Maybe you chose not to. Either way, you are ready.
Perhaps you write for an hour; maybe two. But inevitably, the itch of distraction creeps in. It starts first as a subtle nudge: check your email or five minutes on Facebook won’t hurt. The itch increases until it intrudes on your thinking. Rather than type the words that come to mind, you start to listen to the hesitation: the fears. Your writing is shit. Drivel. No one will read this. What makes you so special to think that you have something important to say. Or that you are even qualified to write. Self-centered nonsense. You cannot survive financially as a writer. You are not writing enough. You are not talented enough. You cannot finish anything… And on it goes.
Sometimes the fear and hesitation appear as procrastination and perfectionism. You tinker with the opening of your story over and over and over again, caught in a continual loop of revision that leads to an unfinished body of work. Or you write for five, maybe ten minutes before turning to the Internet for distraction. Boredom. Frustration. Self-doubt. Uncertainty of the direction in which your story is headed or the direction of your writing career (or lack thereof).
And so browsing the Internet, listening to news or writing podcasts, or simply staring into space provide much-needed solace, but take hours from your day. Anxiety builds as does guilt, and that awful voice strikes again: You cannot possibly do this. Look at yourself. You cannot even keep to your word count. You cannot minimize the distractions. You procrastinate entirely too much… are not accomplishing enough… The cycle continues.
I wish I could say these scenarios are a rare occurrence. I wish I could say that I never doubt myself or am filled with confidence in my writing abilities. But I cannot. The fact is, writing is difficult with many hours of isolation. Sometimes your mind cooperates and you feel high with the joy and power of creation; other times, you feel mired in your fears and uncertainties and want nothing more than to run away from yourself.
And yet, in spite of the fear and self-doubt, there is nothing better in the world. So I continue to write, doing the best I can, writing one word at a time, one day at a time. I tell myself I must take the bad days with the good, and not let my anxiety overwhelm or stop me in my tracks. By accepting and acknowledging that I will have lows and highs, it helps me keep perspective on the days when I am noticeably distracted, unproductive and hard on myself. Bad days are normal. I just need to remind myself that with the bad comes good.