Archive for 'procrastination'

Friday, May 27th, 2011 by Rosemary
The Open Schedule

Over on one of my OTHER group blogs, YA Outside the Lines, the topic of the month has been, “What does an unusual and spectacular writing day look like for you?” To which three of us in a row basically: “Any day that I manage to write is a good day.”

In case you don’t go read that post, here’s the gist: Writing full time doesn’t mean long stretches of blissful writing time. In fact, I have more interruptions of my writing time now than I did when I had a normal job (whatever that means) and wrote on my “off time.”

Some of that is simply changes in my life. I take care of my mom. I live in the same city as ALL my relatives. I have friends 30 minutes, not 300 miles, away. I have neighbors now, not just cows, and I have three needy dogs who bark at every noise outside, which is a lot, because I have neighbors. Noisy ones.

But, lifestyle aside, I made MUCH better use of my writing time when I had limited amounts of it. Why? I’m glad you asked.

People ask you to do things. It probably started harmlessly, where you offered, because you have a flexible schedule. But it snowballs, because you like these people, and theoretically, there’s no reason you can’t take a break just then. But still. People you love and WANT to help will infringe on your time. But only because….

You let them. It’s a terrible trap, the knowledge that you can make up your time any time. That you can always write later. You know how much you could write in two hours when that’s all  you had. So taking grandma to her doctor’s appointment is no problem, you can make up the pages then. Except you can’t, because…

An open schedule opens doors to doubt and second guessing. Plenty of time to write means plenty of time to over think, to get scared, to get trapped in the endless revision cycle. Because you’re not wasting time if it’s limitless.

Nothing makes as good an excuse for procrastination as doing something for other people. (see #1) And if there’s anything I know, it’s that procrastination is a major symptom of fear. (see #3)

    When I had to carve out time for writing, I was viciously protective of it. More than anything, that meant being strict with myself about not wasting that time or giving it up for anything less than an emergency. My family respected my writing time because I respected my writing time, and I didn’t let anything steal it from me–including self-doubt.

    I know it’s hard to look at your other commitments–whether a job, or kids or family or other responsibilities, paycheck-related or not–as a blessing. But those demands on you do one important thing. They don’t let you take your time and your writing gift for granted.

    So whether you have all day to write, or all lunch break, value that time, and make the most of it.

    Monday, March 16th, 2009 by Alison Kent
    Ooooh that smell (with apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd)

    I’m not writing right now so it’s hard for me to think about a subject to tackle. I turned in my last manuscript in early February, received my revision letter in early March, and sent the edited version to my editor last Thursday. I’m in that down time between projects that I look forward to so much. I make lists of chores I need to get done, projects I’ve put off for so long that I’m going to take time to do. Funny thing, though, I end up doing only the most immediate before getting back to writing. This is why the big projects never seem to get done . . .

    . . . except when I use them to procrastinate WHILE I’m writing. During the book I wrote previous to the one I just finished, I cleaned my food pantry. I took every item off the six shelves, made giveaway piles for my kids and for church food pantries of the things I knew I’d never use. I took out each of the shelves and scrubbed them down with Mr. Clean, scouring away every grain of dead rice or blob of hardened syrup. (You have them, too; c’mon, admit it!) I’d do a shelf, write a few pages, do another shelf, write some more, till I finished. The pantry, not the book. That took more procrastination to get done.

    And that’s really strange, because I use my writing as an excuse for putting off tons of things that need doing. Like paying bills. Yes, I keep them paid, but will suddenly realize they’ve piled up when I was deep in the world where my characters live (and apparently have no bills) and will have to crash through a couple of hours of online bill paying and writing checks. And mailing out prizes I’ve given away on my blog. I’m the worst! I use postage software, but there’s still boxing and taping and getting to the post office when I don’t have a car most days. Because of the latter, I put things off and then when I do have a car, I have to crash through a couple of hours of boxing and taping to make that p.o. run. And let’s not even talk about the baskets of laundry I need to fold.

    I wash and dry as needed, but folding? Wrinkles never hurt anyone, nor did digging for undies in a clothes basket. That’s my motto, and it should be yours, too. *g*

    And if I’m being perfectly honest? While writing? I’ll often roll out of bed and pull on the same sweats and T-shirt I took off when I rolled into bed the night before. Yeah. I do it. For days. Not quite as bad? I finished my book on 2/4, and on 2/25, I went to get my hair cut – for the first time since April of last year. Uh-huh. My family was beginning to wonder, who was that frumpy lump of bad hair and old clothes hunched over the keyboard all those months. My dog wasn’t even sure, and she’s the one with the nose to put a drug dog to shame.

    While on deadline, groceries are another thing I either 1) pay NO attention to, or 2) pay TOO MUCH attention to. And it’s not even that I eat everything I buy when I buy a lot. I just need it there. In case a scene’s not working and I need to chew my way through it. Some days when writing, I’ll look up around 3:00 and realize I’ve had nothing but my breakfast coffee. (I only drink it when I get up; the rest of the day it’s water, sometimes tea, no more than one can of soda.) Other days, I have something on the table / desk beside me all day long. When I was writing my CIG, I ate crackers, olives, and cheese every day. Mostly, though, it’s chocolate, a stress-relief delivery device that comes in many forms. Brownies. Cookies. M&Ms. Abuelita. The best chocolate sheet cake ever.

    I’ve been known, while writing, not to leave the house for weeks. Literally. For the last two years, I did ALL my Christmas shopping online. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who takes up the slack in that department, and in many others. Such as housekeeping. He is no stranger to a vacuum or a mop, and is a better cook than I am. Of course, every time I finish a book, I’m determined to try out all the recipes I’ve compiled while writing it, and I usually manage to whip up a few, but then my Becoming Rachel Ray project is put on hold because I get wrapped up in another story, and the circle of my writing life begins again. I’m pretty sure I hear the call of the keyboard now . . . or wait. Is that the linen closet crying to be organized? Maybe it’s a book desperate to be read. I’d better find out before I get too deeply involved with my new characters. You know, the ones who actually FOLD their laundry!