Most writers, long before they turn pro, spend their days preoccupied with writing.

I should be writing more. Why am I not writing more? Why couldn’t I finish that scene yesterday? What’s wrong with me? How do I find more time to write? I know I should be writing more, I want to write more, but there are so many things to do that distract me. Maybe tomorrow…

And so the litany goes. It’s like having a guardian angel, only of the unfriendly, nagging sort, whispering into your ear all day.

That’s not preoccupation, it’s self-absorption that locks you in a mental loop. Going in circles is the only thing it does. You achieve more in fifteen minutes of writing than in an hour of brooding.

Now, professionals are preoccupied too, but they’re immersed in the stories they’re writing. They spend days mincing over their choice of words for the opening paragraph; they go on walks to find alternative solutions to their plot holes; they fall asleep picturing themselves in their character shoes (what would I do?).

That kind of preoccupation propels you forward because it creates tension between you and the finished story. A tension you can resolve only by writing.

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