Monday’s Mental Muscles | Beating Procrastination


 

Procrastination = gift wrapped in all sorts of packaging…

We have all been there. You are halfway through your WIP or halfway through your edits and suddenly there are a whole lot of pressing tasks that come up that have to be completed before you can continue with your writing/editing on the WIP. In steps our old frenemy “Procrastination”…

Frenemy, I hear you say, scratching your temple? Yes Frenemy. Not all Procrastination is necessarily bad. Now, don’t get me wrong I hate procrastination even while I find myself slipping into its slippery clutches again and again. Why do we procrastinate?

We procrastinate when a task becomes too difficult or too boring or feels too routine. As writers, we have all reached that part in the novel when you just want it written to get to the next climactic scene. In editing, you may have found that scene or two that needs to be cut but you just don’t want to cut it because every time you attempt to you remember how much work that scene took to write. So in steps our frenemy “Procrastination” and we go willingly hand in hand down a slippery slope of time-suck.

Procrastination can come in many forms. It can come in the form of household errands that just have to be done because if you don’t fo them, they will just pile up. It can come in the form of checking and responding to emails. It can some in the form of our favourite buzz-word: social networking. It can come in the form of perfectionism.

Perfectionism? How can that be a form of Procrastination?

Perfectionism is the ultimate procrastination for a writer with a perfectionist Type A personality. A perfectionist is never happy with their work, it is never good enough for them. So they will write and rewrite a scene 100 times and reading over it, they will still find something to perfect, correct and change. Don’t even get me started on the editing process.

I confess I am a Perfectionist. It is a gift and a curse. It also makes me my own worst enemy. My work is never good enough and never quite edited enough or grammatically perfect enough for me to step away feeling happy. I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach because I see all the glaring faults – whether they are actually there or not. It is not fun.

So what do I do to ward off this facet of Procrastination? Do I need to ward it off? Surely it is good to be a perfectionist and want the best manuscript to go out into the public eye. Yes I do want to ward it off. If I don’t stop perfectionism in its tracks, I will not ever let go of my WIP. I will still be making changes 20 years from now. Seriously, I am not kidding.

So if your Procrastination comes as Frenemy “Perfectionism, here are some ways you can counteract this or use it to your benefit…

  • Set yourself a minimum times you will rewrite a scene. (Three is usually a good number for me. It appeases the perfectionist professor in me but also makes sure I don’t procrastinate with the perfectionism for too long a time.)
  • Have at least three writing buddies who will make you turn over your WIP to for a read-through. 
  • The writing buddies will also come in handy in making you accountable. (Your butt may get a tad tender from the kicks but it is worth it.)
  • Set yourself both writing and editing time in the day. (The editing will again appease your Perfectionist.)
  • Join in something like NaNoWriMo to turn off that internal editor.
  • Practice Morning Pages – these are 3 A4 longhand written pages that you write first thing in the morning and do not go back over. (This will help the creative flow in your brain and put a stopper in the perfectionist.)
  • Start a journal – this will have the same benefits as the morning pages in blocking creative thought.
  • Write in shorter spurts of time. (You will have less time in front of the screen to be losing focus on trying to nitpick faults.)
  • Critique someone else’s manuscript – or even read a book and critique it – focusing on someone else’s faults will leave you less time to focus on your own faults.
  • Try writing your first drafts longhand. (I don’t know what it is about the effort of longhand writing but I am less eager to find fault with it then on the screen with the ease of a delete button or a backspace button.
  • If all else fails, step away from the WIP and take a walk outside. Going to the gym or going for a run will also work. Both the fresh air and the physical exertion will tire out the perfectionist in you. The outside air and exercise will also give you positive vibes which means you will be less inclined to look at your work negatively.

 

How does Procrastination come packaged in your world? 

What tips or exercises do you use/do to ward it off?

Do you procrastinate more in the drafting or the editing stage of your WIP?

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8 Comments

  1. Great post, Kim 🙂 I love your tips for overcoming that dastardly procrastination. I always fall into the trap of social networking or household chores.

    I find that lists work a charm for me. I have a permanent THINGS TO DO sticky on my desktop and I try to not end my day until I’ve completed every task on that list. I don’t always succeed, but it definitely helps.

    • I wish lists would work for me Mel….but they don’t 😦

  2. I’ve been poking around here, and I like your site (I really like the background image too). I’ll be back when I have a bit more time to explore, but I thought I’d drop a quick comment thanking you for the link to my Procrastination Station post…I do a ton of writing but not so hot with the whole readership thing, so I appreciate your stop by!

    • Hi 🙂 Glad you find the site useful and interesting…always what a blogger wants to hear 🙂

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