I feel as though I've found the key to the secrets of the universe. Listen up.
Wednesday rolled around. I'd just finished all the research that I needed in order to start drafting the new chapter of my manuscript (formerly, "my dissertation"). Sure, I still had things to pick up from ILL and some articles that I needed to get my hands on, but I'd done my due diligence and knew what was out there. But after finishing that last necessary book, I just couldn't bring myself to start writing. Was I ready? Did I have anything to say on the subject? Maybe I really should wait and read those ILL books, just to be sure.
I knew that I was procrastinating, but I couldn't get motivated. Instead I sat around and read blogs for a while and then I went across the street to see a Humphrey Bogart film. It was still hot, after all.
I awoke to much cooler weather and considered my options. If I didn't start in on the chapter, what else could I do? There was that conference abstract--but I could get that done on the plane next week. There was that essay proposal for a book collection--but I'd definitely need to do more research first. And then I remembered it: that tiny little essay I've been talking about writing for years, the one on Major American Novel, for which I'd already done all the research but that I'd had to set aside last spring in order to get the diss done.
My friends, no sooner had the idea occured to me than I unplugged the DSL cable, took my laptop and my folder full of notes into the living room, and started writing. By dinnertime, I had a draft. Today I revised it and put in the footnotes. I think I'm sending it out on Monday.
Yes, it's a small little thing. No, it won't do anything for my career. But it's the first completely NEW writing that I've done in 10 months, and it was a blast. I might even be ready now to tackle the big bad chapter.
So that's the secret, and it's my gift to you: find a project that's not the project you're currently trying to avoid, and you'll be amazed by how zealous and diligent you become.