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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Do You Suffer From Commitment Phobia?

Although the title of my post sound like an article from a health and relationships magazine, I can assure you it links into writing as well.

During my past twenty six years on this earth I have seen so many individuals who suffer from this condition. So many people have it that I am starting to think that if you were born late 20th century you will automatically have it too.

From my personal experience I definitely think this issue is directly linked to our lifestyles we lead today. People of my generation, especially in England, do not want - it seems - to commit to anything. People seem to lack the drive and determination to want to see anything through and it affects their entire lives. People are so used to instant gratification, thinking if success doesn't come immediately, they have failed. With this mindset comes great impatience; people expect things to happen straight away and they will often get upset and frustrated if their situation doesn't work out.

The older generation, however, seem to have more about them. They accept most things take time and require effort on their part, instead of thinking they are entitled to everything when they're not prepared to work for what they want. I don't quite know the reasons behind the mindset of the younger generation, but I suspect that it has something to do with the celebrity culture and the welfare system England has that encourages people to get paid for doing nothing apart from reproduce. People don't want commitment from relationships; they always seem to have an eye open for something better, thinking the grass is always greener. That way of thinking leads to breakdown of families - no wonder life is so depressing these days.

So, what does all this have to do with being a writer? Well since I published my book back in April I have noticed that the majority of people I network with are older, some significantly older than me. There are probably lots of reasons why this is so. Most writers have other jobs while they write but when they retire they can devote most of their time to their hobby. But let's consider what I have just said in this post... writing needs commitment, drive and determination. The things most young people of today lack. I don't lack them obviously, if I did I wouldn't be where I am today. But I increasingly feel that I am in the minority of my generation. Are my suspicions right? I hope not. But I know one thing for sure: writing any book needs so much focus.

What are your thoughts on this situation?


  1. I guess at fifty-two I’m one of that older generation – hell, I have a daughter older than you. I’m not entirely convinced that it is necessarily a generational thing. I was talking recently about my relationship with patience. When I was young I used to say that I only knew three definitions of patience: a girl’s name, a game of cards and an opera by Gilbert and Sullivan. And I meant it. But these days I have so much patience it’s not true. I think in terms of weeks without batting an eye. My third novel is due out now but because someone let me down it probably won’t appear until the end of the year. Am I tearing my hair out? Nah. There’s too much else to do. I think commitment and expectation are connected. I think if you don’t expect instant success then it’s easier to commit to writing as a lifestyle if not necessarily a career. But if that first book appears and everyone shrugs – let’s face it there are new books coming out every 20 minutes so why should anyone get excited about what we’ve written? – then I can see that difficult second book becoming an impossible second book.

  2. Forty-three here and kind of middle ground. Thing is, the stuff you're complaining about in your generation is similar to what my grandparents used to complain about in mine, and what theirs used to complain about in them. Commitment, patience, etc., all do, as Jim explains above, come out with age, no matter how much instant gratification is out there.

    As a career college dean, I see a lot of the late-teens as well as the late twenty-somethings. I grunt and gripe all the time about their lack of commitment and lack of long term vision, but every person who's ever borne the mantle has likely griped about the same stuff. Overall, my students are some pretty good kids, and though I don't see any of them writing a novel, that's more of a choice thing than an ability one.

  3. Several very interesting points there from the both of you. I guess patience does come with age. I'll have to see if I still agree with you in the next twenty years! :)

  4. Over forty and understand your comments about the younger generations always waiting for something "better" and refusing to commit. Writing takes a lot of focus, commitment, time and perseverance for me. Thanks for the observations.