I wrote this entry for the Amwriting blog in May 2012. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t developed or seen a cure as yet, but I’m continuing to battle every day. Slowly, slowly beaty procrastination.
The Amwrting blog is now archived, but there are a lot of great articles up there by lots of different authors. You should check them out: http:amwritingblog.com
[proh-kras-tuh-neyt, pruh-] verb, pro·cras·ti·nat·ed, pro·cras·ti·nat·ing.
verb (used without object)
- to defer action; delay: to procrastinate until an opportunity is lost.
verb (used with object)
- to put off till another day or time; defer; delay.
When I looked the definition of procrastinate up on Dictionary.com, I was really expecting to just see a picture of myself and perhaps a smiley face. Knowing that this was a surprise to me, it probably won’t come as a surprise to you that it has taken until almost the deadline for this article for me to actually get around to writing it. You may call it irony, I call it par for the course.
This is a subject very close to my heart and its not just because its probably something I excel at. For those of you who have read my blog, you’ll know that I am an exemplary specimen; if you cut me open, would I not bleed reasons for not completing blog posts and writing projects? I’ve been a procrastinator for years, ever since the writing bug hit me in primary school. I think I’ve mentioned before somewhere that the ideas flowing were never a problem, and writers block never hit me when I sat in front of a blank page; no, my problem wasn’t a lack of creativity, nor a lack of output, but more a succession of events and scenarios created by myself to stop me from writing.
School. Play. Study. Work. Relationships. Video games. The Internet. Children. A broken wrist. Okay, that last one wasn’t something I would say was a diversion I followed as an excuse to not write, but you never know. I was fourteen and had a great idea for a series of thrillers. Maybe that made me run and slip, Clouseau like from the step and onto the combination of bum and hand. I should stop there.
I do often wonder how I managed to procrastinate before the introduction of the Internet, but whenever I do cast my mind back I realise that deep down there was some sense that the procrastination was because I didn’t want to fail as a writer; I always believed that I could write, but was always scared that really I couldn’t. Therefore, don’t write and you’ll never fail.
Yeah… I think so too.
When I was writing this, my mind began to wander and I found myself contemplating setting up an area for procrastinators like myself to gather and discuss our shared problem and seek mutual solutions which would take us out of the madness of endless creativity and into the brilliant sanity of actually putting words down on the page. However, the more I thought about it the more I realised that it would end up being just another place where I would spend my time procrastinating. A potential solution then would turn into another cause of the problem.
So instead I looked to find out what I had tried, to see if I could share with some of the others in similar bondage. What I came up with are not the silver bullets, but more ideas which I will be looking to try out myself to see if I can get past the blocker and create something new. These should be doable right? Well, I’m up for experimentation.
- Aim lower – don’t aim to write a novel do some short stories, drabble, or write a few paragraphs
- Participate in group events – Word sprints are great ways where you can write at the same time as others and can feel a sense of community
- Create characters – rather than write your story, flesh out a character or two; it will come in handy anyway, so give them some TLC
- NanoAllTheTime – This has worked twice for me in November, so how about attempting the discipline on other months? Doing 50,000+ words may seem strange when you always find the time not to even try, but there’s nothing better than the sense of achievement when you finish up… until you realise you have to edit.
- Read about others – More procrastination? No, call it therapy but there are hundreds of resources out there with tales, tips and tricks. Just don’t spend ALL your time on it.
At the end of the day, what I’m really leaning towards is not to let it bother me. It seems counter intuitive to take a time out, since I’m not actually doing much writing, but perhaps I’m procrastinating because I think too much about it. I procrastinate, therefore I am? Apologies Descartes.
Whatever the solution, don’t let procrastination beat you. You’re creative, so the words will come and perhaps the biggest problem we all have is ourselves. After all, we’re our own worst critics aren’t we? Lets cut ourselves some slack, okay?
I hope it all works out for you. Drop a note below if you are a procrastinator, or if you have any tips. Maybe you’ve been cured. If so, congratulations.
Now, go invent a cure. We’ll love you forever.