Yesterday I posted about this article I read on the ENFP personality and one characteristic absolutely jumped out at me:
9. Being a HUGE, UNSTOPPABLE FORCE of creativity and productivity… an hour before the deadline.
I am such a last minute person. I always have been. I can set aside all the time in the world to work on a project, but somehow in the moment of carefully carved time, my mind wanders. It flits about. I get stuck.
In the past year I have probably done more professional writing than I ever have before. I worked on two manuscripts and have re-engaged with preaching on a weekly basis.
That first manuscript experience was another one of those crazy, down to the wire, I’ve got it all in my head somewhere but haven’t actually put it into the computer yet, situation. Once I did get it roughed out, I had a couple of all nighters finalizing and editing and moving the pieces around. It is just the way I work. And it gave everyone, including myself, a big old fat headache.
So when the second opportunity to write came along, I was determined to do it differently. For my own sanity, for my relationship with my husband, for the quality of the work. I went away for a whole week to a cabin in the middle of nowhere. I made a plan to study and write a chapter a day, every day during my time. And you know what, I actually did. I got all of that hard work done on that trip. But I think for the most part it was because I treated every section of work (each chapter was in four parts) as if I only had three hours to complete it. In order to stick to the schedule, that’s how it had to be. I would have breakfast and study for three hours. I’d take a walk and bang out the introduction. I’d have lunch and then work on the next section. I’d take a walk and then write some more. I made dinner and then before I could go to sleep, the final words had to be done and I did a preliminary read-through. I was able to merge that procrastination and last-minute productive energy with an intentional plan to get work done.
In my return to preaching, I’m working towards doing so as well. Thursdays are carved out as sermon writing days and I’m trying so very hard to instill that same deadline for 5pm that afternoon. I like to believe that if my sermon isn’t finished, I’m not going home.
When I actually sit down to write on Thursdays, I tend to get the worst writer’s block ever. I rearrange books. I listen to quiet music. I get another cup of coffee. I read the texts again. I check out facebook. I stare at the computer screen. I check in with my staff. I do everything BUT actually type out the words.
And truth be told, it’s because I’m struggling with creating the same sense of urgency that my creativity demands. I’m allowing myself to make excuses. I keep thinking I’ll find time on some morning before my husband gets up (you know, on my days off). I tell myself that if all else fails I always have 6am on Sunday morning (a time some of my best sermons have emerged).
I think for my personality, for my style of working, what I need is to hold myself deeply accountable to that 5pm deadline. I need to create consequences for not getting there. I need to remind my administrative assistant that I can’t go home until it’s done (she’s good about things like that). I need to ramp up the pressure for a firm Thursday deadline. And if I’m able to do that, I think writer’s block will be a thing of the past. At least in my life.
Written for today’s prompt from BlogHer: Have you ever had extended writer’s block? How long did it last? What did you do to break out of it, and do you have tips for other bloggers?