Thursday, May 28, 2015
When Procrastination Isn't Your Fault (Claire Youmans)
When procrastination isn't your fault
by Claire Youmans
We all know about “fooling around on the internet syndrome” — a way of not getting things done while pretending to do something semi-productive. We all should know that setting deadlines for ourselves and sticking to them is the best way of getting the things done that need to get done in furtherance of our writing. Setting our own deadlines is something we can, should and must do for ourselves, or we will spend all our time fooling around on the internet, or whining about how we don’t have any time, or are “stuck,” and never get any real writing done or produce any completed work. If our deadlines are imposed from without, we can lower the quality of our work considerably by waiting until the last second, whining and begging for extensions, and then flying into a caffeine-soaked frenzy to get something, anything, out the door on time.
Sometimes, the writing process just needs to work while one wanders around aimlessly wondering, “what comes next?” This is important. This is creative. This form of “procrastination” isn’t procrastination at all. This is a part of one’s creative process and needs to be built into whatever schedule one builds for a first draft, a rewrite or an edit. Commit to working every day, with very few exceptions. A child’s birthday or Thanksgiving might be an exception. Getting your hair cut isn’t good enough. Mark a date on the calendar for the end of the current phase of the project. Don’t try to make yourself write 1500 words a day, no matter what and no matter how bad. Recognize you’re going to need thinking time, walking time, stare at the wall time, re-read time. Build that time in. As long as you are spending active time working on the project each working day and trust your process, things will come right — and on time.
While most delays arise from within our lazy, immature, under-confident brains, there are delays that are not your fault and there’s nothing you can do about them. You get The Thing That’s Going Around — a fate from which I currently suffer. Sometime’s it’s Important Device Fails And Must be Fixed Before All Else — a fate from which I ALSO recently suffered. My water heater died on the Friday night of Memorial Day Weekend but was fixed Tuesday evening. Sometimes, well, you just might have to, you know, work. In an unexpected, but often very welcome, way.
It’s late Wednesday morning. I’m writing for Chris. Then I’ll go do my own blog and social media thing. I’ll get the bills paid and suchlike. I’ll blow my nose a lot. I’ll get some emails out to make sure the next phase of the publication of The Toki-Girl and the Sparrow-Boy, Book Two: Chasing Dreams is proceeding. If I have an additional competent second, I will start on some PR content writing. While coughing. That’s only a small part of my list. But it’s a start. Tomorrow, I’ll do more. And I’ll suck it up and do as much as I can every single day until I am caught up and moving forward.
What I am not doing is saying, “Waaaah. I don’t feel well. Waaaaah. I’m off my schedule. Waaaaaa. It’s never going to get done — so why even try? What’s on TV?”
Don’t do that. Even when the delays and stoppages aren’t your fault. If you are a writer, writing is to some extend at least, your vocation, your passion and your profession. It’s something you want to do, something you care about, something you think is important. Sometimes stuff happens. Deadlines might even have to me (anathema!) moved! Sometimes it really isn’t your own lazy nature and desire to think about being a writer rather than actually being one that is causing the slowdown.
Keep on working. As much as you can, knocking items off your list one at a time. Don’t sacrifice quality. Recognize the problem. Cut yourself slack. But don’t stop working. That’s what turns a writer into a wanna-be.
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