Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Writer's Avoidance, Part 1 by Jerusha Agen

Writer’s block. Everyone’s heard of it—the ultimate enemy of the writer. Or is it? With my own writing efforts (notice the word choice there), I’ve come to realize that my “writer’s block” is a lot closer to writer’s impatience and that neither is really the biggest obstacle to my writing. My nastiest nemesis is—deep breath as I admit this—avoidance. Let’s call it Writer’s Avoidance (gives it so much more dignity, don’t you think?).

At first when I started to see the symptoms of avoidance, I attributed it to the difficulties peculiar to whatever manuscript I was working on at the time. “This one’s just more challenging,” I’d say. “It’s an adaptation instead of a new story.” Or, “It’s a new genre for me, a new length for me.” The list went on until recently, when I started another manuscript in a familiar genre, and the same thing happened.

For me, the avoidance kicks in when I’m in the plotting stage. (You seat-of-the-pants writers out there may not reach the avoidance stage until later on when you lose your grip on those pants and, in a weak moment, wish you’d planned out the ride.) I’m so excited about the prospect of starting a fresh story, but when I sit down to put the plot on paper, I don’t get far before I stall. The reasons are varied, but my response is always the same: I start to avoid working on the novel. After all, I only experience feelings of failure, frustration, or downright panic when I try to make progress, so isn’t it natural to stay away? The avoidance is subconscious at first, and I take a while to admit that avoidance is what I’m actually doing.

I may be the only person who has this impractical tendency. If I am, I give you leave to laugh at my idiosyncrasies, but in case there are other creative, crazy types like me out there, I’m going to give you a checklist of symptoms so you can figure out if you’ve fallen prey to Writer’s Avoidance. (Disclaimer: People with Writer’s Avoidance may not experience all of these symptoms or the symptoms may manifest themselves in alternate ways.)
  1. You start eating a lot more chocolate and taking more snack breaks when you’re working on your manuscript.
  2. Your house begins to look like a Better Homes and Gardens feature thanks to compulsive cleaning sprees.
  3. You keep checking the clock for the approach of the nearest mealtime.
  4. Those piles of papers and old mail disappear and get organized. (How could you ever be expected to write in such a chaotic environment? Organizing really could be considered necessary to facilitate your writing.)
  5. You eat more chocolate.
  6. Facebook and Twitter (or Pinterest) become your new best friends. (You’re only on there to market your books. It’s not a waste of time when you’re furthering your career, right?)
  7. You take up walking in the middle of your usual writing time. (You’ll feel more creative if you’re healthier!)
  8. You eat more chocolate.
  9. You check your phone every ten minutes. (Your agent could be trying to reach you or your smartphone could be trying to tell you about some essential writing-related tweet that you must retweet to your followers.)
  10. Yeah. More chocolate.

Any of these symptoms sound familiar? Please share! And join me next Tuesday to find out how we can end avoidance.

Angie here - what do YOU do to avoid writing? Is one of the above your favorite (like the ones involving chocolate)? Leave a comment below and join the conversation.

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Jerusha Agen is a lifelong lover of story--a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas and A Dozen Apologies from Write Integrity Press. Jerusha is also a screenwriter, and several of her original scripts have been produced as films. In addition, Jerusha is a film critic, with reviews featured at the website, www.RedeemerReviews.com

Website: www.SDGwords.com

Twitter (@SDGwords): https://twitter.com/sdgwords 
Facebook (Jerusha Agen - SDG Words): https://www.facebook.com/JerushaAgenSdgWords 

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