Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Fricassee

And so it's Friday.  Though, for at least five solid minutes after awakening this morning, I was convinced it was Thursday.

So talk to me about procrastination.

I'm not sure why it seems so prevalent among writers.  I think that, sometimes, we don't even realize we're procrastinating.

We call it "distraction."  And yes, there's that.  But it's all sort of under the same umbrella, right?  If we're distracted by something (often online), and we then choose to become involved with that "something" for a minute or a half an hour, we've consciously made the choice to do that instead of to write.

And that's procrastination.

It's not like we don't like writing.  It isn't that we don't want to write.  But somehow, Other Things clog our path, and the writing happens in between them.

Not always.  But often enough for it to be a pattern.

My husband doesn't understand how I get anything done, the way I jump off the page every fifteen minutes.  And yet I complete my first drafts in three months and I meet all my self-imposed deadlines.

Still.  I'm self-aware enough to know I'd be more productive without the distraction factor.  And I'm also painfully aware that, in my own case, it's the fear of Not Getting It Right that makes me hesitate and stutter and look the other way twenty times before starting.

Sometimes things feel So Big, don't they?  Plotting from scratch.  Starting that first draft.  Diving into a major revision.  Writing a (ghastly, unnecessary, physically painful) synopsis.

It's a lot easier to Tweet something first.  Or check my email.  Or eat a piece of chocolate.  ANYTHING but expose myself to the Big Something waiting for me.

Then there's today.  I finished all my preliminary preparation for these revisions, and today's the day for Real Words to happen.  And just thinking about it comes close to paralyzing me.

This is my seventh novel.  And the more I know about novel-writing and the stronger my writing becomes, the MORE PARALYZED I am.

Yeah.  It's the perfectionism thing, too.  Second cousin to procrastination.

So, what about you?  Are you one of the shining examples of non-procrastinating writer?  If so, how do you stay so focused?  If not, how do you daily overcome the Shiny Things to get your writing done?

Let's commiserate!


  1. Friday? It's Friday? I thought it was Wednesday. Gotta run. %^$#@

  2. I've heard that procrastination is really just the desire to avoid painful things. And while I love writing overall, the details of the process can be very painful - especially coupled with that perfectionism which I'm pretty sure is universal to all impassioned writers. ;) So yeah, call it distractions or procrastination or whatever, it's all about a reluctance to face the Hard Stuff. But your work ethic inspires me! When I see how hard you work, not only on your writing but also this blog and nurturing this beautiful community of writers, I get the kick in the pants I need to put away time-wasters and distractors and get to work. (It also helps to shut off the Internet and give myself a strict deadline...)

  3. I feel like this question has split me right down the middle. I can sit down and write as if it were a working week. I set myself breaks, and those are the only times I'm allowed to read, blog, eat, surf the internet, etc. And when I do that, I get a scary amount done.

    But I really have to make that commitment first. If I don't... nothing gets done. I put it off and put if off for reasons I don't really understand.

    So... sometimes I'm a majorly hard worker, and sometimes I'm the worst procrastinator of them all.

  4. I'd like to think I'm not a procrastinator, but I'll do that later. Oh, that was bad. Anyway, I'm not so much a procrastinator when it comes to writing, but I am a slow starter. I can spend a good hour doing the blog thing, e-mails, all that jazz, before I start writing. Call it a warm up period.

  5. "Are you one of the shining examples of non-procrastinating writer?"

    HA! Haha! Hahahahahahaha! Aha.

    Oh man, that was a good one.

  6. I think procrastination in writers may actually serve a purpose. If you operate at your maximum productivity, you wear out. Not forever, but sometimes for days and weeks. Little bits of procrastination allow you to recharge in tiny doses (sometimes). I find that maximum output doesn't make for maximum quality; a couple of LOL cats can help me a lot. The key is coming back to the work. It ain't easy, I'll tell you that.

  7. Nothing shiny about me at all. Totally coated by procrastination rust. AND considering if I'm really a writer.

    Effect and Cause? Maybe.

    So, two problems devouring my writing.

    OK. Here endeth the b@&%hing!! :-)

    Authoress, I discovered your blog recently, and am enjoying it tremendously.

  8. I've built procrastination into my schedule. I get up, do all the shiny distraction things on the internet, catch up on twitter and blogs I follow, and then do things that need to be done around the house (pay bills, laundry, etc.). If I need to run errands, I tend to get them done during that time, too. In the afternoon, I take care of research, start writing, and then pretend I need to do some more research.

    Then the kid comes home, I make dinner, she does homework, Helper Monkey hangs out with us before he has to go to bed. He works night shift, so oddly, I've sort of adopted his bizarre vampire schedule. I get most of my writing done between 8 pm and 1 am. And that's why I'm chronically sleep deprived. But it works.

  9. I am so glad to see this from other writers! I have been, and always shall be, a procrastinator. I wear the badge somewhat proudly; at the same time I wonder what it is that makes procrastination part of the writer's makeup!
    At any rate, happy writing!

  10. I'm about to start a new project and I'm putting off the actually starting part. I keep trying to decide which story to start, as if that's the reason I'm not back to my daily writing regime. Ha!

    At some point, I will actually have to commit to one project. Maybe tomorrow...

  11. I can gauge my writing distress level by what I choose to do when procrastinating. Watching TV, reading, doodling, people watching all mean I'm feeling uninspired and feel lost in the novel. Cooking and baking and Internet time mean I've got a plot or character problem i need to solve. Doing the dishes, cleaning, yardwork and exercising (all things I hate) means I'm reconsidering why I even bother trying to string words together.

    Thankfully, right now the sink has dishes in it and the weeds are running rampant in the yard.

  12. I'm pretty good about not procrastinating. What works for me is i use all those dsitracting things (Twitter, email etc) as rewards. So i write a little bit, then i'm allowed to check my email. I write some more, then i can check twitter. It keeps me mostly on track

  13. I SO identify with what you've written. Especially the "fear of not getting it right." Writing my very first draft ever was bliss because I had no clue what I was doing. It was fun and magical, (and totally suckworthy, in the end of course.)

    Now that I supposedly know what to do, it's sort of terrifying. But more terrifying not to write, eh?

    Thanks for nailing it, as usual!

  14. I'm so distracted that I was writing another comment and I left the computer to answer the phone and forgot to finish the first one.


    When I was a teacher I was forced to be present. I used my off time for off time. Now that I'm writing, there is no off time. I'm doing it all day long. Yes, I'm distracted by dust bunnies, emails, neighbors, and mailman, but at least I call my own shots.

    On that note, just submitted a full manuscript to an agent that requested my work after I got honorable mention here at the blog! Yes, it is possible to get stuff done even with the crazies.

  15. SO with you there. Sometimes I think of writing as such a monumental task, so I wait to do it. Even though I know I can't get it done without actually doing it. It's almost like putting it off makes the task seem exciting, but it does the total opposite. It's daunting.

    Also, if I write more I have to think about where it may end up publishing wise (or where it may NOT end up), and that leads me to freak out a little and thus, procrastinating. Also, the perfectionist in me, it NEVER turns off. There needs to be a perfection switch. Someone invent that!!

    Great post ;o)

  16. I would give any procrastinator queen a run for her money. Mainly because I have the attention span of a puppy. You're right, Authoress, there are many a shiny thing to distract us...but I agree with it running deeper than that. We're afraid. I'M afraid, to mess it up. I sometines feel that my characters should have chosen a more fearless and capable writer to tell their story... but really, I'm glad they're stuck with me instead. Maybe our ability to be afraid, to care enough about it being told perfectly, is why they chose us to begin with. :)

  17. Is it procrastination or is it giving your subconscious time and space to work out an issue? I think it depends on what you're doing when you're not working. I can solve problems with my story while I'm doing mindless work like vacuuming or folding clothes. I'm less productive if I'm on Twitter or checking out the news feeds on MSN.

  18. I have probably taken procrastination to the level of an artform. Longtime procrastinator, me.

    I tend to attack all the piddly things on my to-do list in order to have a "clear head" when I finally get around to whatever it is I really want or need to do. It's enormously counterproductive.

    This infinitely impacts my writing. Specifically, I also use the excuse, But I need to be inspired. In a writing mood. I know perfectly well that if I sit myself down and force myself to focus, the muse will wake up & say, "OH, is it FINALLY my turn to play?" or whatever. :P

    Yep, me & procrastination: great friends. More like frenemies.

    Don't wait! Procrastinate now! ;)

  19. Well, for a long time, I was letting some of my charries (characters) run my mind for a long time. Recently, I have been going to a coffee shop and spend a couple hours writing. It let's me get quite a bit of writing done and I feel like I've accomplished something.

  20. I have to thank you because as soon as I started reading your post I recognized that I was procrastinating to the page and got right to work. (now I've come back)

    Some great responses. I like what Rena has to say about needing those bitty procrastination moments, but I'm generally all in or all out.

    @Laura Hughes ~ I admire that you can get to the page after a full day. I have to write first thing in the morning without going on line. Otherwise the demands of the day take over.

    Someone recently asked if I ever get writer's block and I said, No, I get writer's procrastination. I feel you all on this one.

    @JeffO - isn't "slow starter" the definition of procrastination? :-)

  21. i have to turn my phone completely off to even have a chance, and i write my goals on each day of my calendar with a little box to check off when accomplished. that little x in the box has proven to be a shiny thing for me, but i procrastinate when it comes to actually putting the goals and boxes in my calendar! great blog!!