Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Seven Deadly Writer Sins: SLOTH

by Linda Robertson

Sometimes, I don't want to write.

Gasp! Say it ain't so!

But it is so.  Most days I am willing to spend endless hours at the computer being creative and word-geeky in every way.  But there are some days, especially in the aftermath of finishing a novel when the self-editing portion of the work is rockin and rollin at it's uniquely monotonous full-speed ahead phase, I have to bribe myself to keep my butt in the chair for a few hours. (**The upside of this arrangement is I know exactly what enticement to dangle.)

Oh yes. There are days when I'd rather
go to the dentist than write.

To define this Deadly Writer's Sin, I consulted the all-knowing oracle (snerk) the esteemed Lady Wikipedia, who breathed deep of the mystical vapors and in an professional font proclaimed:
"Sloth can entail different vices. While sloth is sometimes defined as physical laziness, spiritual laziness is emphasized. Failing to develop spiritually is key to becoming guilty of sloth. In the Christian faith, sloth rejects grace and God.
"Sloth has also been defined as a failure to do things that one should do. By this definition, evil exists when good men fail to act."

1.) Physical Laziness     If my butt (or in your case, yours) isn't in the chair, the writing isn't getting done. If it doesn't get done, I don't have a product to sell. I cannot publish an unfinished or nonexistent story, but adjourning for a lunch with my gal pals, postponing the desk-work in favor of lingering over the luxurious task of sock-mating, or any other means of selling myself the American procrastinating Dream can with all Godspeed go nowhere fast.

          Moral: Write. Finish. Repeat.

2.) Failure to Develop. (aka Failure To Do Things That One Should Do
     Many people dream of being writers and do manage to keep their backsides in the simply string sentences together. Much more than that is required, to write well and to sell. Those sentences have to craft a story with heart, populated with characters that are unique, and be told with a style and in a voice that holds the attention of readers. 
     You can write as you want, of whatever you want, until the end of your days. But until you are willing to look hard at your weak spots, to see your flaws, to learn why you err, and relearn new habits, in other words--until you are willing to rise to the challenge you have embraced, and push yourself to grow, you won't develop. If you're lucky, you'll be continually growing. But you have to be open to the experience. You have to be vulnerable to gain feedback. Granted, not everyone can give constructive and professional criticism, but you simply must be able to take criticism when it is constructive and given in a professional manner. Finding someone to work with, such as beta readers, writer's groups...that's a trial and error process that can work, but it takes  time and effort to align the folks that will be most advantageous to your growth. 
     Reading well-written books, reading how-to's and doing the author exercises in popular workbooks are a more solitary approach and can work as well. You know yourself, which path is right for you? Which path will force you to write better, to write more knowingly?
     The bottom line is, most folks in the business don't have the time to hold your hand and walk you through it, sunshine. You better be a self-starter, motivated to write, ready to accept flaws and willing to work on them. Otherwise you will stagnate where you are, leading you to the bitterness and resentment that comes with some of the other wrath, envy, greed.
     A day off is no sin. But making excuses instead of word count, whining instead of writing, gets you nowhere. Choose where you want to be and then commit and make that journey.

          Moral: It's up to you to level your own self up.

He accepted the responsibility, despite his fears, and faced the foe head on...and leveled up. I dare you to do the same with your writing.


  1. Sloth is probably my biggest writing sin. I know I should be working, but instead I'm over there on the couch, doing abso-freakin-lutely nothing. Of course, admitting the problem is half the battle, so thanks for that, Linda. The other half, though, that's where the real war begins.

    Time to level up.

  2. Ooo, sloth as the failure to develop intellectually and spiritually. I hadn't thought of it that way.

    Of course, I like to think of sloth as those adorable little creatures with two or three toes.