Today I read an article that changed my attitude. It pointed to my biggest downfall as a writer: I am a procrastinator. Yes, it’s true. I claim to be a writer, yet I can find a million things to do but write. This article summed up the cause of my procrastination in one sentence: I am “paralyzed by the prospect of writing something that isn’t very good.”
How sad is that? It’s true, though. I’ve had this problem since my journalism days. I worked up from editorial assistant, to columnist, to reporter, to editor. Each day I was afraid “they” would find out I can’t write. During my short tenure as an editor, a reader called to ask where I went to school, and who taught me to write. Asking where I went to school and criticizing my writing skills to an insecure writer was numbing. All I heard was my story wasn’t good enough.
I switched careers shortly after that phone call. I can’t fake it anymore. I was a bad writer, so instead of continuing to challenge myself I chose a position I knew I could succeed at. The job was less demanding field and a job I didn’t love but was good at. Fourteen years in a beige occupation. The “fear of being unmasked as the incompetent” was my motivator to do less. Pretty pathetic.
After retirement, I enrolled in several college writing courses. I wrote every day, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, flash fiction, and free writing. I was alive again. Riding high on overconfidence. I faltered though, and stepped back into doo-doo. I shared my stories with beta readers and faceless on-line critiques. They found me out. I was a fake. I can’t write. They liked my stories but don’t understand them, or they liked them more if I added this or that. I read their comments, and I found other things to do.
Paralyzing procrastination has pulled me away from my dream of publication. No more. This amazing, timely, motivating article showed me who I am. I’m turning off the voices in my head now and writing a good story.