I'm coming clean on this one. Doubtless some of you are sitting on the other side of a computer screen, snickering sanctimoniously and thinking, "I never do that!" but I know better. We've all purposefully avoided writing at one time or another.
Why avoid writing? We call ourselves writers, don't we? What it gets down to is that writing is hard. It might be hard on your time, your imagination, your emotions, or you just might be lazy -- but writing can be hard. And it's OK to admit that...as long as you don't let it get the best of you.
I almost let it get the best of me, but I kept plowing through. Inching through might be more accurate, some days. On good days, I roller-derbied through with a machine gun on each hip, blasting down zombies.
But no matter how much progress I made, there was never a day where I did not doubt myself. So I did other stuff, to escape writing.
Writing is hard, but I couldn't admit that to myself. I always thought that writing was supposed to be easy and that I was failing at it. That's because writing is not jumping-into-burning-buildings-to-save-children hard. It's sitting-at-a-desk-dredging-up-words hard, which isn't really a tangible type of difficulty, and no one cares about it but you -- especially if you're not published.
So, yeah, pity party's over. Time to confess all the crap I do to escape writing.
1 - Social media.
But not just any social media. When the writing-evasion guilt hits, I almost always spend time on writer blogs, following writers on twitter, participating in advice discussions, looking up contests, seeing what's new on writer Facebook pages, or giggling at Slushpile Hell. It's like the wasted time on social media doesn't count, as long as I've wasted my time looking at writing-related things. Things I will use later...when I start writing again. Whenever that is.
2 - Blogging.
Blogging is technically writing, so I can excuse myself to a certain extent here. But when I'm blogging, I'm always aware that I should probably be writing or editing or at least doing my homework. My blogposts also tend to be long and involved instead of short and snappy. The temptation of blogging comes from the reciprocity. Suddenly you're not alone at your desk anymore! People are reading and commenting! They share your plight!
3 - NaNoWriMo.
I must confess, a major reason I attempted NaNoWriMo 2012 was because I was so frustrated with my previous WIPs. I'm glad I did it -- I learned a lot -- but I did it for all the wrong reasons.
4 - Writing something else.
Talk about irony. If I'm frustrated with the current project, I sometimes start writing something else. Not because I need to, but because I am blatantly avoiding the problem. This can take the form of working on another WIP, writing poetry, writing a short story, or even writing music. The unfortunate thing is, I never finish these distractions. All they are to me is distractions, and I can never fully focus on them.
5 - Editing.
This, this is the WORST. Going back to edit what I've already written is a terrible habit of mine. I broke myself of this habit with NaNoWriMo, but what's that awful line? "You are my personal brand of heroin"? It's easy to resist the urge to edit when things are going swimmingly. The more frustrating it gets, the more I ask, "Where did I go wrong?" and want to edit. Also, editing for me is mostly me telling myself how bad it is, which is just not helpful.
6 - Reading.
Reading is great. I love reading. But I have an unfortunate tendency to start asking myself, "What would GRRM do?" when the going gets tough. Don't read another author's work to compare it to your own. Soon you start thinking, "But I'll never be as good as JK Rowling!" Enjoy their books. And then go enjoy your own. The only exception to this might be fanfic -- but I have a lot of, ahem, strong feelings about fanfic that I won't get into here...
Well, those are the main ones. We all have our insecure or ADHD days when it comes to writing. As long as the distractions don't become constant bad habits, I think it's acceptable to cut yourself a break every once in a while.
Tell me I'm not alone on this one -- what are your illicit writing escapes? :)