Okay, let’s cut to the chase. All those distractions that I’ve been writing about? Aren’t they all too often just a mask for the real issues, the distractions that originate from deep within ourselves? These are the ones that we are not admitting, are not facing. What’s often really going on is pure avoidance. We just can’t bring ourselves to face our work. Avoidance can come from many causes. Fear–of failure, of not measuring up, of exposure, of rejection–is common. My own avoidance comes mostly from dread of hard work. Because writing is most definitely hard work, even when it’s fun.
Avoidance can also arise from a distaste for one’s current project. That may be a sign that the project should be shelved. Since writing is hard work, you should at least be working on something that engages you. Entire rooms of books have been written on fear and other causes of procrastination. I can’t add anything to the help they might provide in overcoming the emotional roadblocks to our progress. What I will suggest, even urge, is this: locate the Christopher Fowler short story “The Cages.” It’s included in his collection Personal Demons. The story is a chilling and brilliant allegory for how we sabotage ourselves. For anyone who has ever wondered in dismay, “how did things end up like this?” this story gives an answer.