Apparently the hotly-contested midterm elections had a profound effect on me. It was right around that time that I took my lead from many of the candidates, and made an empty promise of my own. Two weeks ago, I proclaimed that I would publish two new blog posts each week, and I’ve only delivered 25% on that promise.
Granted, the day after my last post I was hit with the latest creeping crud that has felled many people I know. Honestly, if you’d known how much I was coughing, you probably wouldn’t have even wanted to open anything I posted anyway. For more than a week, I got myself to my day job, but not much else.
I thought about writing a post in the middle of that fun called “The Show Must Go On” — a philosophy I firmly believe — but I quickly realized that’s hard to achieve without an understudy.
So, over the last 10 days I’ve been wracked as much guilt and panic as I was with coughing fits, watching my hits register zero and wondering how I’d ever get back in the game.
Naturally, my first thought was to come up with some good excuses. After all, here I was working full time and sick on top of it. Those seemed like good excuses.
Then I thought about Scott Turow. He had a full time job, too — as a criminal defense lawyer in downtown Chicago. Yet he managed to write “Presumed Innocent” (in a spiral notebook, no less!) on the train to and from the office. Yeah, scratch that “full time job” excuse.
But hey, I still was sick! You can’t be expected to perform at your best when you’re sick.
Then I thought about Michael Jordan. In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals, commonly known as “The Flu Game,” MJ led his team to victory while battling symptoms that would have rendered most people too sick to watch the game on TV. Sure, no one is paying me millions to write my blog, but I don’t think that was Michael’s motivation for playing (hear that, Derrick Rose?). Yeah, scratch that “too sick to write” excuse, too.
And it’s not that I don’t have ideas. I have a long list posted on my office wall, notes on all manner of paper scraps, and even have my husband saying, “You should write a blog about that!” when a good idea comes along. So what was stopping me?
A Deadline is a Deadline… or Is It?
Experts say that writers should write every day, and many writers, published and otherwise, follow that rule religiously.
Not me. I can’t write without a purpose and a deadline. Acknowledging that reality was a big part of what took me so long to start a blog. I wondered how I’d keep writing without that gun to my head.
So, I thought I’d trick my inner procrastinator by manufacturing deadlines and proclaiming them to the world. Not only did the plan fail, it backfired. Instead of motivation and inspiration, I found myself paralyzed with doubt and frustration, a/k/a writer’s block. Despite good health and plenty of time, I wrote nothing.
Then I realized my problem.
Thanks, Carl Reiner
The greatest television show ever made was “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” (If you’ve never seen it, stop wasting your time on this silly blog and go watch every episode. NOW!) Some 53 years after its premiere the brilliance of its creator, Carl Reiner, still holds up. It’s a tribute to and textbook example of outstanding writing and perfect casting. Pure genius, plain and simple.
Although not the funniest episode, my favorite is one entitled, “A Farewell to Writing.” I always say, you can tell a real writer wrote this episode. In brief, Rob Petrie’s friend publishes his first novel, throwing Rob into a frenzy to do the same. Getting nothing done at home, he goes up to the friend’s cabin in the woods, where he proceeds to talk to himself, busy himself with needless tasks, and get up to 374 on Paddle Ball. When Laura comes up to rescue him from himself, he explains that came to the realization that when he’s ready to write, he won’t need a quiet house or a cabin, he’ll write his book “on the subway during rush hour” (perhaps inspiring Scott Turow to boot).
I have to agree with Rob. Writing every day for practice is all well and good, but I’m not going to write just for the sake of publishing something on my blog.
Number one, I don’t want my posts to just be longer versions of narcissistic “look what I’m eating” facebook posts. While I’m not above such foolishness, I’ll try to keep it on my personal facebook page.
Secondly, now that I’ve removed the self-imposed pressure, I’m sure stories will come. Rob wrote his book by the last episode of the series, and that should be inspiration enough for me. And when I don’t feel like writing, I’ll waste time with the 2014 version of Paddle Ball – Candy Crush Saga (Level 681 and counting).
So I rescind my previous statement and replace it with a promise to publish when the time and topic are right, chipping away at the Old Writer’s Block. In other words, We B Late (But Right on Schedule).
Great post! I love that episode, too. And also made reference to the show on my blog. Love Rob and Laura!!!
I started out writing everyday. Got all THAT out and now write just once or twice a week. It’s gotta move you or your readers also say, meh.
Glad you’re feeling better!!! Just in time for TURKEY!! Gobble.
Laurie O'Connor Stephans
Thanks, Bonnie! And yes, afraid my appetite is just about back in full force. That side effect never seems to stick!
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