Sometimes, Putting Off Writing is the Right Thing to Do


That “sweet spot,” where the competing aspects of life are in balance, is a wonderful place to find myself. Whether I’m talking about my professional, creative, personal, or spiritual self, finding and maintaining balance is a key to prolonged productivity.

In my writing life, I try to find balance between order and disorder. I’m a big believer that a certain amount of disorder can be a positive thing. I’m not one who has to have a spotless desktop (either real, or virtual) and my to-sort files and my to-do list can mount up pretty quickly. Sometimes things are left “in that stack, where I can find it if I need it” for a long time.

I also know that the creative inner critic and word-coward that lives in my head is really good at coming up with other things for me to do, besides write. Many writers will tell you that their inner voice suddenly prompts them to do the dishes or clean the blades of the ceiling fan or dust every one of their Hummel figurines with a q-tip. Writers are good at inventing new chores that MUST be done, especially when writing gets a little hard, and I have to guard myself against suddenly going into spring cleaning mode in October.

Transforming my workspace from its piled-up and cluttered former condition into a reasonably-organized  creative spot was long over due.

Transforming my workspace from its piled-up and cluttered former condition into a reasonably-organized creative spot was long over due.

But, there are some times when it’s okay to grapple with the disorder in an effort to get it under control.

I recently moved my desk/office space into the spare bedroom, completely rearranging our small apartment. In that process, I got about half-way done with putting things where I wanted them (things like the files and tax papers and important mail and my own drafts) and after getting half-finished, I stopped the sorting and cleaning.

Last night, though, things had gotten to such a state that I realized I had been avoiding my desk and the office space for days. That’s when I knew I needed to act: When I was avoiding writing because of the mess.

So, yesterday afternoon I began the process of finishing up the move. I put things away, made decisions about which things could go to the trash, and generally took my work space from looking like a trash truck had thrown up on my desk and turned it into a usable space.

(I also cleaned the ceiling fan paddles and dusted, but that’s another story…)

Some clutter is good, but when the mountain becomes something that keeps me from putting pen to paper, it’s time to call a time out to other things, and get some cleaning done. Do you have a chore that your inner critic sometimes convinces you is more important than your writing? If so, how do you identify when that chore is a legitimate need?

Have a great day, and Happy Writing!


5 thoughts on “Sometimes, Putting Off Writing is the Right Thing to Do

  1. I once clipped the cats’ nails to avoid writing. 🙂

    I swore I wasn’t going to continue to be a pack-rat when I moved into my house. Ha! That last about a week. I now have about 3-years of The Writer magazines and Writers Digests on the floor of my office. I just started clearing things out the other day. This will take a long time! BTW, “word-coward” is a great description!

    • We tend to move every three years or so, in order to keep the overall clutter level to a minimum…haha.
      I have a box of writing magazines sitting by the door to go out to the trash…all great magazines, but the likelihood of me re-reading them is slim-to-none.
      “word-coward” should be printed on a pink t-shirt that I have to wear every day I neglect my writing…seems like an appropriate penitential thing to do, yes?

  2. Ah, sweet release after reading this post! Now I know why I keep worrying about household chores — writing avoidance. Sounds very psychobabble, right? Seriously, a great post!

  3. When I start baking, Bruce goes, “Writer’s block, hey?” Then I think, “My mother should see me now…she’d be so proud.”

    Congratulations on your new office. So, no sleep-over parties for friends and family anymore?

    • It was this decision: leave the room as a bedroom that gets used 10 or 15 days a year (and leave the “office” out in what should be the dinning area) or use the room 300+ days a year…family and friend can still sleep over on the sleeper sofa…but they’ll have to wake up when we do. 🙂

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