Last week I was thinking about the themes that ran through my list of the 9 Books That Will Make You a Better Writer, and I realized that one of the things that attracted me to those particular books was the way many of the authors dealt with the issue of writing and mental fortitude. The two are so intertwined and so crucial to success. As Betsey Lerner writes in The Forest for the Trees, “There is no stage of the writing process that doesn’t challenge every aspect of a writer’s personality. How well writers deal with those challenges can be critical to their survival.”
As I wrote about here, procrastination is one of the biggest mental roadblocks that holds writers back from creating books and building audiences. It’s a lesson we have to learn again and again–how to step away from all the noise and create space for productivity. I love that Leo Babuata of Zen Habits is so honest and helpful about this–he calls himself a distraction addict, and I think it’s safe to say that most of us are just as hooked on pop-up windows and scrolling news streams as he is. As he writes:
Distractions, of course, are often about the fear of missing out. We can’t possibly take part in every cool thing that everyone else is doing, but we also don’t want to miss out on any of it. So we look online for what’s going on, what other people are doing and saying, what’s hot. None of that actually matters. What matters is being content, doing things that make people’s lives better, learning, being compassionate, helping. So let’s let go of what we’re missing out on, and focus on the difference we want to make in the world.