How to trick yourself into writing

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post written by Nick Ripatrazone…

I had never heard of writer Nick Ripatrazone (pictured above) but it turns out he’s the author of seven books of fiction, poetry, and literary criticism and a contributor to The Atlantic and Rolling Stone. He’s also a staff writer at the literary website The Millions, where my friend Peter Wilson encountered a piece headlined: “Don’t Worry. Don’t Wait. Write.”

I share most of the advice that Ripatrazone preaches but I was equally surprised and charmed by point #9 in his 15-item list. He advocates tricking yourself into writing. Here’s how he puts it:

I’ve known more than a few writers who have spotless apartments and drawers of perfectly-folded laundry in the days leading up to a deadline. Even if we love to write, sometimes the thought of working through a difficult passage or resolving a complex scene feels like more work than the most tedious or boring activity. Don’t fight this quirk of human nature. Instead, what I’ve learned works is always give yourself two writing “projects” at once; the one you find laborious and difficult, and the one you really want to write. Then the decision is no longer between writing and washing dishes (they can wait another hour).

I have lived with enough overly-tidy apartments and perfectly folded laundry to understand the substantial merits of trickery when it comes to writing.