Here in Write or Consequences Land, procrastination has become a huge topic. We’ve been thinking about it, talking about it, writing about it, and suffering from it for several months. We’ve defined it, we’ve identified it in our own processes, and we’ve offered up dozens of suggestions for countering it.
Unfortunately, what we haven’t done is banish it.
But fortunately – for me at least – all this focus has allowed me to pinpoint some of the how, when, where and why of my own relationship with procrastination.
I’ve learned that I have an incredible ability to camouflage “busywork” as necessary tasks. Taking time to straighten your desk so you have a conducive writing environment is a valid use of time, but when straightening the desk turns into dusting every surface in the house? Productive procrastination.
Telling myself I’ll just play one hand of solitaire before cracking open the WIP, then looking up two hours later to realize I’ve played a dozen games, answered every email, liked thirty Facebook posts and followed every Hollywood gossip link on yahoo’s home page? Social Procrastination.
Loading up my laptop and heading out to Starbucks to write away from all the distractions of home, but ending up at Wal-Mart, Dillard’s, Best Buy and the grocery store instead? Retail procrastination.
Signing on to amazon.com to scan the newest releases in my genre, then downloading six new books and spending the entire day reading “market research?” Head-in-the-sand procrastination.
I am a huge offender in all these areas, but the other day, while not actively thinking about procrastination, my imaginary light bulbs started popping. Isn’t it funny how that happens? The minute you stop fretting about something, the answer comes to you like a gift.
Just what was this water-shed realization? My most common methods of procrastination all boil down to coping mechanisms of some sort. Choosing the lesser of two evils, if you will. It’s not that I want to dust every nic-nac in my house. The truth is, I’d rather dust than sit and stare at a blinking cursor while I wait for inspiration to strike and help me get my heroine out of her latest pickle.
Honestly, from the outside looking into my mixed up grey matter, it doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I want to write. I want to finish the two series I have in progress. I want to self-publish them. I want to be prolific and consistent and entertaining enough to make a living self-publishing. I really do. So, why then do I continually drag my feet? Why can’t I establish a maintainable writing rhythm? Why am I still talking about publishing a book I started six years ago? Worse yet, a book I started fourteen years ago?
Why do I allow success to continue to allude me? And more importantly, how can I stop self-sabotaging?
Here’s where the light bulbs comes in. In order to succeed, I need to make writing my number one coping mechanism.
Not medicinal ice cream. Not losing myself in a book someone else has written. Not binge-watching reality television. Not even housework. When I don’t want to face what’s in front of me in my real life (which happens way more often than I’m comfortable owning up to), I should train myself to seek solace and comfort in my writing, by absorbing myself in the world where I am in complete control.
Put like that, it sounds like a no-brainer, right? In the world of my WIP, I have final say in everything. Characters names, vital stats, career choices. Themes. Morals. Winners. Losers. Who lives and who dies. Weather. Traffic. Dog vs cat. Or both. Big city or wide open spaces. I get to make all those calls and thousands more.
Going forward, my plan is to recalibrate my thinking. No longer will I tell myself I don’t know what comes next and allow my self-doubt and my subconscious talk me into organizing my sock drawer rather than writing. Instead, I will remind myself that I get to decide what comes next.
As the controlling factor in my fictitious world, I have the power.
So take that procrastination. You and self-doubt can have a seat on the sidelines, because I am going to harness that power – in all my worlds!
Back when her twin sons were young enough for daily naps, Dawn Temple took advantage of those quiet moments to pursue her dream of becoming a published romance writer. Sneaking in an hour here and there paid off in 2005 when she sold her first book, To Have And To Hold, to Silhouette Special Edition. She managed to secret away enough time to write and sell the second book in her Land’s Cross series, Moonlight And Mistletoe, but alas, her boys outgrew naps and Dawn let go of those stolen moments with her laptop to enjoy life with her two little guys and her big guy, hubby of 21 years.
But now, as an officially retired stay-at-home mom, Dawn has once again found the time and the creative drive to return to writing, and this time around, she’s set her sights on independent publishing. Her first self-published book, Peace of Heart, is scheduled for release in 2017.