“Thinking isn’t the enemy, but overthinking is.”

This advice given to someone, who had received it from someone else, who had likely heard it somewhere else, as well, is advice I end up giving a number of writing students and clients.

Why do I know others need this advice? Because I need it myself.

A few years ago, I realized how often I spent my “writing time” doing anything and everything related to writing, other than actually putting new words onto the page. This is when I developed a new phrase for my weekly schedule: “Writing-related activity”.

Just calling it a new name was a big step in fixing my lack of writing balance.

Activities that seem to be related to our artistic pursuits really aren't. They are dangerous distractions, or worse, something that will devour our creativity before we realize we have an imposter in the mix. Are any of your sheep actually wool-wrapped wolves?
Sometimes, activities that seem to be related to our artistic pursuits really aren’t. They are dangerous distractions, or worse, something that will devour our creativity before we realize we have an imposter in the mix. Are any of your sheep actually wool-wrapped wolves?

Before, when I called a Google search or making an outline or wrestling with a timeline by the name “writing,” I could justify to myself all that time spent. “Oh, man. I spent a lot of time writing today.” But I didn’t have any new words to show for it. There was something wrong in the barnyard: Something wasn’t quite what it seemed. One of the sheep was acting funny.

Once I changed the way I saw that time, it was much easier to balance it. I began to write time into my schedule for writing, and for writing-related activities. Writing time is just for that: writing. WRA time is for researching, planning, dreaming, outlining, editing, revising, and talking about writing.

Read that list again: researching, planning, dreaming, outlining, editing, revising, and talking about writing.

Those are all great things, but they aren’t writing. And that is what the quote above is referring to. None of these things are the enemy, but if we overdo them to the point of excluding our actual writing, they can become the enemy.

You may find it possible to balance these things without much trouble, but I found it very difficult to not fall into the trap of calling certain things writing when what they really represented were ways for me to avoid or procrastinate the writing.

Or, maybe there is another source of deceptive resistance lurking in your writing nook. Something that is closely related to what you want to do, or be, creatively…so closely related that you’ve been able to talk yourself into it being beneficial, but really, it is keeping you from writing.

I hope you sniff out the wolf draped in wool and get back to your words. I think I’ll go do that, right now.

Happy writing, everyone.

Who’s Your Enemy?