I could just as easily title this post “Confessions of a Chronic Procrastinator.” I’m sure plenty can relate, but when you’re writing independently this isn’t really an option. With no one holding you accountable to sit down and write daily, to finish that draft or edit your latest revision, self-starting can be the biggest source of writer’s block.
Two things have helped me overcome this. One is a mindset, and the other an accompanying practice.
You must consider your work sacred. It’s not something you can just do anytime, anywhere (well, you probably could… but to get into my characters, I prefer consistency). You are a creator, the god of a tiny microcosm, for a few moments a day. That’s something powerful, beautiful, and worthy of celebration.
So don’t just write anywhere! Find your temple! I’ve become deeply covetous of my writing time, and I don’t let anyone take this special part of my day away from me. A big reason for this is that I only allow myself to write in specific locations. There’s a cafe here in Austin without whose soy chai and understanding baristas, I would never have finished the first, or second, draft of a screenplay last year. That’s one of 2-3 places in the city I’m allowed to write. I have another spot in Los Angeles, and two in upstate New York.
You might ask, “How do you accomplish anything when your writing depends on so many outside factors?” That’s fair. Sometimes I work too late at my day job and don’t make it out before the cafe’s hours end. However, it makes me value my time there even more, so that I channel meditative focus within those walls. As in, I have written entire first acts in a few hours, of a quality I would determine “reasonably good, and definitely better than that other guy at writing circle.”
If you value your writing time and hold it sacred above all else, the commitment comes easily. Procrastination is no longer an enemy, or even a concern.
Once you find your holy of holies, here’s my final piece of advice: don’t tell anyone. This is your sacred space. Writing, we know, is a very personal art. Don’t choose a space where you’ll be easily pulled away by friends or other social distractions. But most importantly, keep it special.
This is your space. Love it. Cherish it. And use your time there well.