From The Writer’s Almanac, celebrating Elizabeth George’s birthday:
Rather than sitting down to write novels, which she knew was her calling, she did what she calls the “Divine Dance of Avoidance.” She was busy doing everything except writing. She got a teaching credential, became a high school English teacher, and got a master’s degree in counseling. Every summer break, when she’d get 10 weeks off of school to write, she would be filled with anxiety about starting a book, about whether her plot or characters would be any good, or whether she’d be able to write convincingly, or whether she’d be able to finish anything she started.
And then, in 1983, her husband bought a computer in order to write his graduate thesis…(snip) She chose to make it a defining moment: When the computer arrived at their house, she said: “I was faced with the simplest life question I’ve ever had to answer. I asked myself whether, on my deathbed, I wanted to sigh and say, ‘I could have written a novel’ or ‘I wrote a novel.’ Believe me, the answer was simplicity itself.”…
I know that each project I do, there are moments of this Divine Dance. When I find myself drawn to washing dishes or rearranging a closet, I wonder what is the problem with that project in the sewing room? Does it have a mechanical process question that needs figuring out? Colors not quite working? Not quite there on knowing how to quilt it? I don’t always walk away from the dishes or closet but knowing what’s going on is part of the process – less anxiety for me, and often times the problem is worked out in the recesses of my head by the time I’m walking into my sewing room again. If not, at least I know what the real work ahead is.