[Ad Hudler (Man of the House, All This Belongs to Me, Househusband) — one of the few select male authors on TDW — may appear to be in the minority yet his writing is universal. In this guest post, he addresses his struggle with procrastination and who (whether writer or reader) cannot identify with that?!]
For years as a stay-at-home dad, I complained that I didn’t have enough time to write. My days were spent running errands, cleaning, cooking, fixing and filling things, and playing chauffeur in the minivan. The caregiver is everyone’s bitch. And his or her needs, especially writing, generally come last.
But, in the past six months, my daughter has gone to college, and my wife has taken a job in another state. And, this being Florida, where our homes are worth a fraction of what they were worth three years ago, I am stuck here for awhile, awaiting the return of the bull market and higher home prices.
Everyone, now: Woo-hooooo! No one to cook for! No one with dirty laundry! And I am breaking the record for number of days that a human can wear one pair of jeans without washing them. (Nine) So I have the most enviable position of all authors right now: I am home, alone! Did you hear me? ALONE!
Given this, I should be writing a book every month, right? I mean, Louisa May Alcott did it with “Little Women.” What’s stopping me?
Well … plenty.
Frankly, I am so thrilled to be living an existence in which no one needs me that I am being somewhat selfish. I’m wasting a lot of time. Hours of time. No, who am I kidding? Weeks of time. I have, most definitely, entered a bon-bon period …
Yes, yes, I’ll write that chapter, but first I’ll catch up on the episodes of Modern Family that I’ve missed. Just one. Okay, two. What the hell: all of them.
I promise that tomorrow I’ll get an early start and write, write, write my butt off. Maybe 2,000 words! Absolutely! Can do! WILL do! …
Oh, but it feels so good to sleep in, and that kitty cat is so peaceful I can’t even think of moving him …
And then, after breakfast, I realize I haven’t been to the beach in awhile, and there was that scene I was writing about shells, and I could definitely do some research ….
Phone rings. It’s a good friend whom I haven’t seen for awhile. “Of course I’d love to meet for lunch. Better yet, let’s do cocktails and dinner.” …
And the next day: How can I even think about writing when I’ve got these cracked sidewalk tiles that need replaced.
Two days later: Well, that certainly took longer than I thought it would. And I’ll sit down to write just as soon as I find that really cool purse that my wife wanted for her birthday …
You get the point. I have found reason after reason not to write. And let me tell you why: Writing a first draft, at least to me, is the hardest thing in the world. You must dig, dig, dig deep, into a special place in your psyche/soul/mind/whatever-it-is for the initial raw words and sentences. And sometimes the act of mining those words, bringing them up to the surface and into this life and onto the computer screen, feels as pleasant as running, backwards, in hot-humid weather. It just drains me. Boggles me. There is nothing harder. Comparatively, editing and revision are more like a walk on the beach in 70-degree weather. I choose the walk over the run. Wouldn’t you?
I’d been acting as if the hours in my day were money, and I’d won the lottery. We all know that when there’s plenty to go around, you don’t feel the need to economize. I, one of the most disciplined people I’ve ever known, had fallen victim to freedoms created by excess.
The problem: I was not making any headway on my memoir. Lots of facebook, let me tell you. (BTW: I give great status), and I wrote some great tweets and blogs on my website … but nothing that would make me money. Even though I’d written four novels, one of them in a six-month period, I evidently had fallen out of practice. And I now know the culprit: I have no deadline for this manuscript. My last three novels were written on contract, with a deadline. I purposely avoided setting up a deadline with this book because I am moving into a new genre – humorous nonfiction – and I am in the experimenting/creating phase right now, trying to find the right voice and pace and content. Not easy stuff, mind you. No wonder I’ve been putting it off. Lesson learned: New genre or not, we all need deadlines. We all need expectations to meet, goals to reach. Otherwise, we languish.
Thankfully, my friend and fellow fiction writer Nancy Zafris stepped in and gave me an ultimatum: I had to write at least 200 words a day. Five hundred would be ideal, 800 would be even better. But, she said, if I managed to pound out at least 200 then I’d often discover that, while I was working toward the goal, momentum would fall on my side of the net, and I would go on to write even more. She was right.
I soon began thinking of my writing in the same way I consider brushing my teeth or taking a shower: It was something required, and I felt “dirty” if I didn’t do it. And soon, in just a matter of days, it became habit again. (It helped that Nancy would email me daily, with an intimidating message that said something like, “Word Count? Progress today?”)
So thank you, Nancy, for getting me back on track. The words have been pouring out of me, sometimes 1,000 in a single day.
That laundry room that needs retextured and repainted? It’s just gonna have to wait. I’ve got a memoir to write.
Book Giveaway; While awaiting completion and publication of Ad’s memoir, The Divining Wand is giving away two copies of Househusband in a random drawing of comments left on this post. The deadline is tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winners to be announced in Thursday’s post.
Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of Jenny Gardiner’s memoir, Winging it, in a random drawing of all comments left on this post. The deadline is tomorrow, March 17th at 7:00 p.m. EDT with the winner to be announced here in Thursday’s post.