If one day someone invents a pill that enables humans to actually do the things they know are good for them, it will be revolutionary.
There’s nothing we humans like more than to pass judgement on what someone “should” be doing. Why doesn’t she leave her abusive husband? Why did he let himself get so obese? Why doesn’t she stand up for herself? Why do they waste their money on junk? There’s great pleasure to be had, imagining yourself handling horrible situations nobly and ingeniously. Nobody plans to be imperfect, we’re just born that way. All of us try to “be good”, to do “the right thing” but knowing what you “should” do and doing it are two very different things.
Take this new book I’m working on. I have a plot, I have a deadline and I know what I need to do: just write. Get the draft down. Write without stopping, even if I know its rubbish. I can’t fix text that’s not on the page. A little bit every day gets it done.
And yet…I’m not doing that.
There’s all sorts of excuses I could give: work is pretty intense right now, I’ve had a few extra commitments – but I know there’s been time. And I know I’m stuck because I know the next couple of chapters are weak.
All the advice would say just carry on, fix it later. And yet.
I have spent some time doing research and trying to nut out a different approach to the scenes but I still haven’t quite cracked it. It’s a constant irritation in my brain…how to solve X?
The crazy thing about my resistance to sitting down and writing is that I have actually been having fun. I love my characters, they’re very distinct in my mind and the words just flow, once I get going. Objectively, I know putting pen to paper will do the same crazy brain magic it does everytime. There is no good reason for me not to just sit down and write…and yet.
Why is it that we find it so difficult to do the things we know are good for us? I know I should eat less, exercise more, floss, sit up straight…I fail at all of them, usually on a daily basis. When it comes to all that stuff, I know it’s because when it comes down to it, the immediate gratification of laziness and gluttony offers far more cognitive pay-off than the dubious benefit of future good health. I mean, I could get hit by a bus tomorrow and all that parsimony would have been in vain. Sit down! Have another drink!
We need to be kind to ourselves and others for not living up to the “shoulds”. On the other hand, I need to put some hours into this draft. I’m at chapter 20 now, I’ll report progress next week.