I hate writing. Actually, I love it once I get into it, but I hate it as a concept. Starting a new project – be it a blog post, a brief, a new chapter in a novel – sucks the life force out of me. I curse my fait. I bemoan my life. I feel like everyone else is frolicking on a sunlit lawn (even if it’s raining). I usually end up in my kitchen, staring at the vegetables and questioning my decision not to buy Nutella.
The more I berate myself that I should just get on with the work and then it’ll be over, the more I hear the siren call of the TV. Then Twitter. When even the gym starts looking attractive, I know that I’m in deep, deep trouble.
So what’s the hack? A guilt-free temper tantrum.
It works like this: I build in 30 minutes of “I hate my life and the universe” grand mope at the beginning of my writing session. I can be as extravagantly miserable as I want, and I can eat chocolate and cake. The only requirement is that I sit where I’m planning to write, and I don’t have distractions, such as the Internet, available. Usually, it takes far less than 30 minutes to get over myself and start writing.
I discovered this technique when I was working on my novel, then used it to bust through countless briefs (unfortunately for me, people in the law firms where I worked discovered that I wrote decent briefs fast, and so there was a period where I was churning out 1-3 briefs a week). I’ve since applied this successfully to other things I don’t want to do (e.g., cleaning the apartment; making uncomfortable phone calls; etc.). I think that it works because it shortcuts the fight within myself about how ridiculous it is to feel so put upon by having to do the things I have to do.
Feelings are not rational, and trying to shame ourselves into feeling differently is not only futile but adds more uncomfortable internal conflict. Thus, by attempting to force ourselves to procrastinate less, we are paradoxically encouraging the perfect conditions for procrastination.
So the next time you have to do something you don’t want to, I wish you the bestest and most luxurious funk you can muster.