Procrastination: Not Writing When You Need to Write
Monday, I wrote my to-do list for the week, updated the church blog, e-mailed my students, went to the library and had lunch. Then, I worked on chapter 1. I finished a draft by about 11:00 pm.
Tuesday, as I was checking Facebook, a message popped up. The high school needed me! I started my book outline, and then worked at school for three hours. Returning home, I had lunch (3 squares are vital!) and worked on the outline. I had a draft by about 10:30 pm.
I met my deadline with a few hours to spare in spite of my procrastinating. To overcome procrastination I have to know why I’m doing it. Most often, it is one of these four reasons.
Route not charted. Sometimes I’m not sure where I’m going with a piece of writing. If I’m writing a personal essay, it could be that the experience is too new and I need to process it first. Or maybe my editor wasn’t specific enough with the parameters of the assignment. In fiction, I need to know where the story is going. To overcome this type of procrastination, I need to make some decisions or talk to my editor.
Lost my way. If I’m well into a piece and then start to procrastinate, it’s often because I’ve taken a wrong turn. Either I’ve gone off topic in my nonfiction or wrote a fictional scene with my protagonist acting out of character. If I know more-or-less where the story is going and something feels off, this is often the problem. I need to spot where I made the mistake, and then I can fix things and move forward.
Too spacy to write. Writing is hard work so I may lack the energy to write. Have I taken a day off in the past week? If I’m on deadline, I may not have time to take a whole day off but I need to recharge my creative batteries. Sometimes I walk or knit. Choir practice helps. So does going out with my family or friends. After I’ve recharged, writing will once again be possible.
I don’t want to write it. Some topics or scenes, though necessary, are brutal to write. I’m working on a book called “Black Lives Matter.” My knee jerk reaction was “Of course they matter!” Still, racism and social inequality are hard to write about without standing on a soap box.
While I’m working on this, I’m going to have to guard against procrastination, keep my goal in sight and keep my creative batteries charged so that I can keep moving forward.
Why do you procrastinate?
SueBE teaches our course, Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next section start May 4, 2015.