Friday Speak Out!: Allowing Procrastination to Make Your Story Better

Friday, May 17, 2019
by D.L. Gioe

As a writer, putting words together makes me come alive. But some days, it’s just not happening. No matter how much caffeine, sugar, ritual, or will power – it seems the cosmic schedule and all the forces of nature are determined to block me from translating the words in my brain onto the screen.

This is when I have to remind myself that procrastination is my inner voice’s way of screaming at me that I’m pushing the process too hard. It’s time to slow down, and let my mind unspool the thread at it’s own pace. THIS is where the good stuff comes from – the AHA moments and the plot twists that even you, the author, didn’t see coming.

So I strike a deal with myself: I can slack on the writing as long as I’m doing something that advances my broader writerly ambitions. Here are five of my favorite procrastination techniques that always leave me more excited about my work in progress:
1. Set the mood. I love the gorgeous story aesthetics some authors develop and post on Twitter. I, however, have NONE of those skills. What I groove on is music. I love curating a playlist to capture the tone of my work. I find it really gets the creative juices flowing, and sometimes a close listen to the lyrics even reveals insights into some of my characters.
2. Journal. It’s writing but without the pressure. My favorite way to do this if I’m stuck in a story is to journal from the point of view of one of my characters. I always learn something new about that character, and frequently about some of the other characters, in addition to unearthing underlying plot dynamics.

3. Research. I LOVE research. With a variety of internet search engines awaiting your questions, all from the privacy and convenience of your desk (or couch, or bed – no judgment), there’s really no excuse for not doing a little digging. If nothing else, you need to know what else exists out there that might be similar to your idea. Which brings me to…
4. Hit the library. Because not everything is online. You may need to check out an actual book. While you’re there, check out the titles in your genre. Talk to the librarians about what’s hot in your field, or simply enjoy being in the presence of other book nerds.
5. Read! It’s may be THE best part about being an author, so indulge! Read widely in your genre. If you’re afraid that reading in your genre right now may mess with your idea, then read in other genres to get fresh, new ideas. Synthesize what’s out there in the collective unconscious and distill it into your genius voice. There’s also all the craft books, the magazine articles, the blogs…. In short, read all the time, in all different formats. If you’re not writing, the best thing you can be doing is reading.
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D.L. Gioe writes novels for YA and MG audiences, when she's not traveling, gardening, building her consultancy, walking her dogs, re-learning the important things in life from her kiddo, or otherwise procrastinating. She's the co-creator of The Space Between – a blog for parents who are also pursuing their creative ambitions. You can follow her @DLGioe and/or join The Space Between community on Facebook.

Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!


Sioux Roslawski said...

D.L.--I love the idea of letting my brain unspool the thread at its own pace. You're right. When I try to push too hard, it never yields anything worthwhile.

Good luck with your future writing.

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