Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing. Being ‘a writer’ means being stagnant. The act of writing shows movement, activity, life. When you stop moving, you’re dead.

—William Faulkner

I came across this gem a few weeks ago. You can read more of Faulkner’s musings on writing here.

It’s just one of many messages the universe has sent me lately on the topic of doing the work.

Procrastination 101

I am a great procrastinator. I mean, world class.

One of the best ways I’ve found to avoid doing the work is to make a plan. Because once you’ve made a plan, you automatically feel a sense of relief. Since you already feel better, you probably won’t bother doing the thing you set out to do in the first place.

If that’s too much work for you, I also recommend telling yourself that you already have the thing you want. See yourself sipping café au lait at a swanky outdoor cafe in Paris, winking at Alfred, having already become a famous (rich) best-selling author.

This is garden variety visualization.  And it’s a load of crap, according to science. Spoiler alert: visualizing the desired outcome actually makes it less likely.

What works

Guess what? According to the same study, there’s a type of visualization that does work. The authors call it process simulation. In process simulation, you don’t dream about the outcome. You visualize yourself doing the work.

You’ve probably heard of athletes who mentally practice their moves before they hit the field. According to people who care about sports, this improves performance.

In the study, college kids who visualized studying (process) improved their grades, while students who visualized being on the honor roll (outcome) did not.

So, dear writer, if you feel like visualizing, imagine yourself sitting down at your laptop for hours on end, sucking down copious amounts of black coffee, and banging out words. Because that’s what writers do.

Oh right. I have to do stuff.

This brings us back to Faulkner’s advice, which is still there at the top of the page if you forgot about it.

Don’t be ‘a writer’ but instead be writing.


You can spend all day telling yourself stories about what you intend to do. You can dream about seeing your name at the top of the best-sellers list. But none of that will happen – none of it can happen – unless you do the work.

One word. Then another. Then another. Even if it’s garbage. Especially if it’s garbage. Get it down.

Let’s begin.