Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Procrastination

For those of you who missed the A to Z Challenge (or just forgot because I'm taking forever to finish the series), I'm currently writing about the A to Z of things writers (especially new ones) should know about writing.

Today I'm tackling Procrastination, because it's a pain in the butt.

I mean seriously. We're writers. We love writing. We love having stories to share with the world. It's like breathing to us. Things just don't feel right unless we're working on our stories.

You'd think that it means that we just hop to work whenever we have time to write.

Weeeeeeeeeeellllll... 

No. 

No, we don't. 

Because there's tv and chores and all manner of "legit" activities like social networking or refreshing ranking pages to death to see if our book babies are doing okay.

Really, though, it reminds me of this scene in Stuart Little. Except in this case, we're both the mouse and the cat at the same time. Or maybe Stuart is the good writer side and the cat's the bad writer side. Either way, the cat having his way and not doing what he should usually ends up with someone getting hurt. (Or with writing not happening, which does hurt.)




The sad thing is that we do this to ourselves all the time. Especially when we know that some major deadline is looming over us. It makes us feel like we're totally overwhelmed. Drowning even. But instead of just sitting down and just getting the stuff done, we make things worse by doing:

Nothing. 

Which of course overwhelms us even more.

Really. Try not to do this. It's a vicious circle. Because it makes you not enjoy writing even though you love it. Have you ever loved something and not like something (or someone) at the same time? It's incredibly frustrating.

The thing is, if you no longer like writing, you'll put it off more, which means that it overwhelms you even more later. Which makes you like it less. And on it goes.

Stop the cycle. Don't put writing off when you can do it right now. Put off the things you want to do now but know you could do later.

Trust me. Your writing will thank you for it.

Any addicted or reforming procrastination addicts here today? What's your method of choice? If it's blogging: STOP NOW AND GO WRITE.

After you've commented, of course. ;-)

20 comments:

Cherie Reich said...

I used to be a terrible procrastinator in school. I was good at doing daily assignments, but anything that required weeks to do (like papers), I left them until the very last possible minute. I hated being overwhelmed, though, so I've learned I can't leave things to the last minute anymore. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't, but there is a chance to do better. :)

Carole Anne Carr said...

I find that when real life problems hit, then the time wasting miraculously disappears, always in my case :0)

Crystal Collier said...

Wait, when did you get back on the blogosphere? Goodness. I really have been gone a long time. Nice to see you, Misha!

Terry W. Ervin II said...

Ha! I've put off mowing and trimming the bushes...until 5 minutes from now...and that has delayed my writing, and the amount I might achieve...

Annalisa Crawford said...

My top methods of procrastinating include Facebook (networking is important, right?), online crosswords and Sudoku, and newspapers (the traditional ones like the Guardian, Telegraph, etc - for research and inspiration purposes). I'm trying to break free :-)

klahanie said...

Hi Misha,

Of course, the mundane parts of life can be incorporated into the writing experience. If one can make quotidian situations almost seem fascinating, that's one heck of a result.

I believe you should write when it feels right. Farcebook and other distractions can be good fodder for the next story.

I was going to comment a bit more. Maybe later as in an hour's time, or tomorrow, or the next day, or....

Gary :)

dolorah said...

Hmm, be a long time before I'm a reformed procrastinator. Get over one method just to start another :)

celinejeanjean said...

I'm such a procrastinator, and I always kid myself that I'm doing something worthwhile. I love having written, and I love editing and rewriting, but first draft writing.... Everything becomes an excuse to procrastinate, until the guilt over not writing becomes unbearable and then I sit down and do it. Why do we make life so hard for ourselves!?

Hart Johnson said...

I've gotten worse about this. Much worse. I'm not sure exactly why but I keep adopting new bad habits... I need to STOP.

Terry Lee-Rosing said...

I'm better about procrastination than in years past...I think. Maybe I've just relabeled the term. I've set a deadline for August as the finish date for book #3 (Time Trials). I'll get back to you on the procrastination thing:) But if one of my grandchildren needs something or a friend wants to have lunch at the last minute, I'm out the door...and have no regrets.

Patsy said...

It's weird how hard we work at avoiding doing something we want to do, isn't it?

Hana Banana said...

I don't even have a job at the moment, I just find it's easier to not confront my issues with plotting.

Of course then I feel like crap at the end of the day when I don't write.
It's a vicious cycle...*sigh*

Click said...

I can be terrible about procrastinating sometime. It's amazing all the household chores that suddenly need doing (even the ones you hate) when you've got a deadline!

Of course, if you really need to tidy your bedroom before someone comes to stay, suddenly that writing task will look really appealing. ;-)

A Beer For The Shower said...

For me it's all about time management. I make myself an actual schedule that says from 7-9 PM I'll do nothing but write. Then I sit down and make it happen. That works much better than "Well, I guess I have some free time. I might write. Well, after I watch this TV show..."

Tamara Narayan said...

I am a procrastinator. I keep putting things in front of my writing because . . . why? It's not making money? It feels more like a hobby than a calling? Who knows. I need to stop though. Just let me get a few other things out of the way first.

Kelly Hashway said...

I have the opposite problem. I put everything else aside to write. This weekend I told my husband I was totally putting cleaning aside to write. ;)

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I'm procrastinating right now! :)

Procrastination is my worst vice, especially when I have journalism articles to write for the day job. I don't want to write them, so I drag my feet, and before I know it, something that should have taken me an hour has been dragged out through an entire day. It's a horrible feeling.

Weirdly enough, I do it with my fiction writing too, even when I'm really enjoying it. I can't understand it. Writing for a living was a lot easier without the internet. Social media is my procrastination tool of choice. That, and reading.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I'm procrastinating right now! :)

Procrastination is my worst vice, especially when I have journalism articles to write for the day job. I don't want to write them, so I drag my feet, and before I know it, something that should have taken me an hour has been dragged out through an entire day. It's a horrible feeling.

Weirdly enough, I do it with my fiction writing too, even when I'm really enjoying it. I can't understand it. Writing for a living was a lot easier without the internet. Social media is my procrastination tool of choice. That, and reading.

Loni Townsend said...

Yeah, I thought, I should write on my lunch. And then... Oooh, look! Blogs!

Procrastination will be the end of me.

Misha Gericke said...

Cherie I agree. Even if we can't totally break the procrastination habit, it's still better than not trying to.

I find that too, Carole. I guess we have our procrastination priorities. ;-)

Hi Crystal! Yeah I think I came back while you were on hiatus. Glad to see you back.

Terry I do that too. Sometimes I don't procrastinate on my writing, but the other things I do procrastinate on then cuts into my writing time.

Best of luck, Annalisa!

Hehe Gary, I hear you. I also believe in writing when the time is right. The thing is, I can FEEL deep in my bones that the time is right to write right now, and then I'll STILL be tempted to do something else.

Hahaha Dolarah, eventually you'll run out of methods, right?

Celine! I'm so glad I'm not the only one! Everyone always goes on about how much better it is to draft than to edit. Usually it's the reverse for me. Although at the moment, I'm suffering from withdrawals because I haven't drafted anything since end April.

Hart, sometimes we avoid things when other things are going on. So maybe if you're finding that this is a BIG problem, maybe you should try to investigate the underlying issues because procrastination can be a symptom of something bigger.

Terry Lee, I know what you mean. We all have priorities and often family obligations have to come first. Nothing wrong with that.

Patsy I know! It's terrible.

Hana, if you're STILL struggling with plotting and it just isn't working for you to the point that you're avoiding it... maybe accept that you're a pantser and just find a way to be clever about pantsing? (That's what I did.)

Hahaha Cait I always said that my home would become so messy that I procrastinate on cleaning it by writing. And that's saying a LOT.

Hi Beer Guys! Yeah I use a similar method to get writing done as well. I also use a carrot and stick idea such as "no reading until I'm done with these edits." If I stick to "no reading" it'll drive me nuts enough that I'll actually edit right to schedule until it's done.

Tamara, I have found that changing the way I think of my writing from "it's my hobby" to "this will be my second career" has indeed made a huge dent on my procrastination habits as a whole. Sometimes I falter, but no longer as badly as I used to.

Hahaha Kelly, then you're in luck. Until you need to clean. ;-)

J.H. sometimes, I find that this sort of thing comes down to the way we think about stuff. When I think: "I HAVE to do this now." I usually put it aside for some reason. "I WANT to get this done now." usually has me getting started immediately.

I know that feeling, Loni.