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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sorry to Brag, But These Lines I Wrote Are Brilliant

If the brilliance of prose can be judged on the effect it has on people, then a number of sentences I’ve written recently are of Pulitzer quality. They certainly made a significant impact on me.

Here are three of them:

• “Relax. You can play Words With Friends for a few more minutes before you start writing, Jim.”

• “Just watch one more set of downs, Jim, before diving in. Heck, it’s the playoffs, and that whole Tebow thing is going on. You need to know what’s happening in culture.”

• “Start tomorrow in the morning. You’ll be fresh and the words will flow much easier. Besides, Kung Fu Panda 2 looks really, really good.”

I’m guessing more than a few of you have written prose even more compelling. Words that have inspired you to put off your writing once again.

Does it help to know you’re not alone? It helps me. A little. To confess I procrastinate and know others are saying, “Me too,” is an assist.

But to get a strangle hold around the throat of procrastination I think we have to go deeper and ask why we put off our writing. What’s the core reason those excuses resonate with so much truth we often embrace them and put off getting to—what for many of us—our life's deepest purpose?

For me it’s fear. Fear it won’t be good enough. Fear what I write won't be as compelling as last time. That people will discover I don’t know what I’m doing. That the bottom of the well has turned to dust.

Acknowledging the fear is the first step. Expose it to light.

The second? Realize action cures fear. Confidence (positive emotion toward our writing) usually comes after action, not before. In other words, start. Even if we don’t feel like it, we begin.

Step three. Do it again the next day, and the next, and the next.

Stop reading this. Start writing.

Who knows, we might write a few words that change a life.

James L. Rubart is the best-selling author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, and THE CHAIR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and teenage sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. Wow. It's like you have been listening to the inside of my head (she said, hurriedly closing Solitaire and Facebook).

  2. Sad but true. Last week, I finally acknowledged to God and myself that I've been approaching a particular project with fear, not faith. It seems I can find almost anything else to write except the one I most need to tackle. And as you say, naming the fear gave me impetus to dive back into the work.

    One thing I've never done: Words with Friends. If I gave that monster the opportunity to suck me in, I might never find my way home.

  3. Have you been listening in on my thoughts, Jim? That's another reason I have to leave home to write. When I do that, it's a "gone to work" mentality, so even when I don't feel like it, I'll plow ahead. :)

  4. Can't stay long ... lots to do. But before I do it (and I'm not procrastinating, really!) I'm tweeting this post and posting it on my author FB page. Good stuff as always, Jim.

  5. I was challenged, in a roundabout way, to take a new approach to procrastination that fits well with what you've so wisely said, Jim. Everything I need for life and godliness is in the Word of God. When I recognize the procrastination monster lurking, if I spend some time in the Word, I'll find what I need to push past procrastination--an antidote to fear, a booster shot of courage, a reconnection to my reason to write.

  6. Great post, Jim! I've been struggling with procrastination in the newyear (well, always, but particuarly now). Thank you for the pep talk. :)

  7. Whew! So I'm not the only one. Now let's go write! :)

  8. As a sometimes writer myself, Words With Friends seems a more appropriate time-waster than, say, television. Bottom line, my manuscript has fewer pages being added. I will always justify my TV time as long as I can tie it back to wordplay. Blame my love of Scrabble, WWF and TV trivia for spawning my blog and the word game that resides therein. Still, all these distractions keep me away from my writing.


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