When I'm racing to meet a writing deadline, I feel a sense of exhilaration, momentum, and flow. How can achieve that state on a regular basis so I can make steady progress on my writing?
The night before a big deadline, it's always the same thing. Under the gun to file in time, the urgency and pressure fuel me and gets me going. It's not panic, it's energy. Things start clicking. I feel inspired. The writing just flows. I wind up doing 90 percent of the writing in 10 percent of the time.
When the hour and minute of the deadline roll around, I always find myself wishing I had another 24 or 48 hours to work on the thing, now that I finally know clearly what I want to say. But by then it's too late (especially if the deadline is a live presentation of my story).
Imagine if I could get to that point a week before the deadline how much better I could make everything!
I don't know why I'm so lazy.
1. I never actually write anything unless I have to, by which I mean i.e. I have an externally-imposed deadline and someone else is sitting there WAITING for me to file
2. Even then I never seem to be able to get going until the last possible minute
It used to be that I didn't take my work seriously and I could get away with it. In college I did an all-nighter every time I had to write a paper and I always got an A.
Now it's different. I realize that this is my life and I need to stop playing around. So I write every day. However:
1. I have trouble getting started with my writing for the day. It's always "let me check my email one last time" or "oh I just remembered I need to make a doctor's appointment" or even just "let me browse headlines for a while longer before I start." Why do I feel the need to put it off so long before I start?
2. I constantly feel the need to flee my writing task and do something else, anything else. Check my email. Make coffee. Empty the trash on my desktop. Usually the distractions that pull me away from my writing aren't pure time-wasters—I'm not sitting there playing videogames when I'm supposed to be writing. Instead, it's "oh man, my friend is coming into town this weekend and I just remembered I still haven't emailed him back, I should do that right away." Or "oh if I'm going to go running this weekend, I need to order earbuds." They're important things, things I do need to do anyway. But, you know, I don't need to do them at that moment. So when I think about it after the fact, I can see: that was just me trying to escape the task of writing. Sure it's fine to take breaks. But sometimes I realize find I've only done a few minutes of writing at a time between all those other tasks.
(For context, I'm in the process of writing a narrative nonfiction book, which involves a lot of research and synthesizing information.)
Why do I indulge in this procrastination, this "experiential avoidance"? I don't know, because writing is hard and I'm lazy and my brain wants to avoid work? Fine, but writing is what I'm CHOOSING to do. I've had other jobs and they were awful and I don't want to have to go back. Which means I have to find a way to get my writing done.
I realize these are classic writers' problems
, but what's the solution for God's sake?