Procrastination, or Jenn Is Distracted By Pretty White Stuff

So, it snowed today. 

For the first 23 years of my life, I lived in Eastern Tennessee.  For the last 10, I’ve been in Eastern NC.  Apparently, both areas of the country have a similar reaction to snow of any kind.  

“HOLY $#^!  It’s a blizzard!  We’re all gonna die!  Milk, bread, eggs, milk, bread, eggs – Worried about the power?! Why would I be?!  Get home, and fast!  Why is this jerk only going 45mph?!?  Doesn’t he see it’s snowing?!  Does he not know it’s turning to freezing rain in, like, an hour?!  Thank God I’ll be home before that happens.”

(Turn on CNN, and you will see this happening in my backyard.)

Nice thing about snow? – can’t go anywhere so might as well stay in, and use the time to write and read. Bad thing about snow? – It’s cold in my office and I have cable. Well, okay. I guess technically, those are the bad things about winter and having cable respectively, but the fact remains that I have gotten very little writing (or reading) done today. I did do some thinking, though. I did a lot of thinking. I thought, “It is extremely cold out here, and the snow is making the fur lining of my Candian goose down coat’s hood wet. Why am I walking to the store? Is food really that important? I could be writing right now.” And I thought, “The local news keeps telling me the same thing over and over. ‘Gridlock traffic; conditions worsening; if you don’t have to be out, stay home.’ Why am I watching this? I could be writing right now.” And I thought, “What do you mean no Jeopardy!? I waited to cook dinner, so that I could time it just perfectly to sit down and eat with Jeopardy! I could have been writing by now!” So here I am, ceasing the interminable cycle of procrastination by sucking it up, battling the cold (my desk is right in front of a large window – great for sunlight, bad for drafts), turning off the TV, radio, and the phone, and actually writing.

Let’s face it. As writers, procrastination is the biggest battle we fight, and we fight it – not just everyday – but at multiple times of everyday. Sure, any person in any job can procrastinate. But it’s different for writers. The truth is, for the most part, we don’t have deadlines. The majority of us are writing because we love it, not because we are making a great income or the boss tells us to. But that means that the motivation, the drive, and the incentive has to come from within. And on a cold day, or a tiring day, or a day that you just feel meh it’s hard to be your own boss – especially since you are making you be a mean boss. Everyone who writes – scratch that – everyone who is successful in writing, has their own way of dealing with procrastination. What works for me is self-talk, specifically telling myself what I could be writing if I weren’t sitting here watching television. It begins with a legitimate question; “If I go write, what am I going to write about?” But then, I start trying to come up with an answer, and eventually something so good comes along that I have to go write it down.

Of course, personal goals help too, especially if there is some sort of tracking system that helps you hold yourself accountable. For me, it has been a great little website, 750words.com. I assure you there is no double meaning in the domain name. You write 750 words a day, and you get points, which are really arbitrary, but become meaningful because of your reminder/congratulatory daily email which is sent to you at a time of your choosing. It really is very motivating, and I highly recommend it to any writer.

Another thing that helps me is that when I’m really in the zone and I share with my friends progress I’m making on whatever WIP I have, they start bugging me. “Is it done yet?” “How far along are you?” “Are you going to publish it?” “Have you ever thought of self-publishing?” “What about publishing an e-book?” Some days, they seem more excited about my writing than I am, but it encourages me to keep up so that I have an answer when they ask.

In the spirit of camaraderie and encouraging dialog – What do you do to fight procrastination?

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