When you begin to see yourself as a writer – in fact, even when you are trying to become a writer – a particular air of responsibility appears. You feel duty-bound to write. When you are not writing, and you know you could be, it feels as though you are purposefully missing an appointment or failing to make that awkward phone-call to the poor guy you are no longer interested in dating. Basically you start to recognise just how much you can procrastinate.
And this spreads slowly out in to the rest of your life. You no longer just feel that culpable sense of time wasting when you should be writing, but also when you should be doing the washing or walking the dog or making that phone-call to your friend who just talks about herself for hours. It actually makes writing seem like a positive procrastination tool.
This is possibly part of the reason why I have somehow managed to grapple my way into the category of ‘writer’. I now write almost every day. I have different writing projects to work on and various ideas and stories to work up. I secretly replaced ‘procrastination’ for ‘writing’ and am 80% of the way through NaNoWriMo thanks to this little trick of the mind.
In truth, all I did was handily ignore all those jobs I didn’t want to have to face doing and used writing as an excuse not to do them:
“Did you do the washing?” asks my wonderfully supportive fiancé.
“Nope, I’m writing,” says I, tap, tap, tapping away at my keyboard productively.
It’s a nice trick. Of course, it only actually works if you ARE writing. Such conversations are much more difficult to argue if you aren’t writing:
“Did you do the washing?”
“Nope, I’m writing,” I say, from inside the blanket on the sofa in the living room.
“No you’re not, you’re watching TV.”
“Erm, It’s research, for the writing.”
Cue dirty pants from the wash-basket magically flying through the air to land on my head…and the slamming of a door perhaps.
As long I’m writing I feel I can acceptably ignore a few of the less urgent and mundane tasks of general life. Writing is my escape, my release, my procrastinating to avoid all jobs I’d much rather do later.
I’ve not yet worked out what it is to avoid my avoidance technique of writing. Because I’m fairly sure that this just culminates in me surfing the web wondering why oranges aren’t purple and why paper cuts sting so much. I guess when I realise I’m procrastinating to get away from writing that’s when I need to re-evaluate my accountability to the whole premise of writing. Because if I don’t enjoy it – why would I make myself do it?
However, I suspect I will always find writing more engaging than changing the sheets, washing up or having to clean the toilet. So I can’t see a day any time soon where this habit of writing to avoid housework might change. This is my accountability for writing: I enjoy it more than most other things, so I’m going to just keep on doing it.