Beware the Procrastination Demons
There is good procrastination and then there is bad procrastination. When I think of good procrastination, I think of the artist’s end result being that much more superior because they procrastinated and allowed the idea to really blossom over time. Now, don’t get me wrong. Don’t confuse procrastination with “spending extra time to get it right.” Procrastination’s little sister is the word “lazy.” And yet, sometimes being lazy allows enough time to pass in the world, so the world can be ready for your release. Unfortunately, this only happens about 5% of time. The other 95% of the time, procrastination is evil and can kill momentum and a career faster than you can say “Crocodile Dundee for President.”
So what demons will try to tempt you to taste the fruit of laziness, or making excuses? First, I’d like to talk about the internet and social media. The internet (and I also mean to include social media from this point on) is a fantastic tool to help market and promote yourself after your work is released, or just prior, to get fans or potential new fans to know that your book is coming out. Where the internet can become a black hole of procrastination, is when someone “takes a break” to check their Facebook, or Twitter, or even their email. Social media platforms have algorithms in place, designed by some of the top programmers in the world, to subliminally try to keep you on the page. Everything from the layout, and the manner in which new notifications come in, are designed to keep you put. So, I would suggest only checking your email, Facebook, Twitter etc. AFTER you have finished writing for the day. If you need to take a break, do something that keeps the creative juices flowing, but gives you an emotional break. Listen to a few songs, take a walk around the block, alphabetize your spice rack. Anything but falling down the rabbit hole of social media sites. Now, when I write, I keep my internet browser closed. Completely closed. Not minimized. Closed. If I need to research anything about what I am writing, I use my google or Wikipedia app on my iPhone. That way I know I am only trapped in those functions and I won’t wander into distraction that eventually leads to full-blown procrastination.
The second procrastination demon that I find rears its ugly head often, is believing that “I will get to writing today after I finish the list of A, B, and C things.” If today is a Writing Day, then writing should be A on your list. When I am writing a novel, I set aside three of the seven days of the week to just writing. The other four days can be filled with cleaning the house, laundry, grocery shopping, vacuuming etc. Pick the days you are going to write… and WRITE. It’s so easy to say, “Well, today I’m going to write after I put in a load of laundry, vacuum the house, and go get an oil change.” And what happens is, you get home from the oil change, somehow it’s already two o’clock (probably because you spent a wasted hour on Facebook) and now it’s time for the kids to come home from school. You really think you’re going to get anything of quality written after the kids come home from school? No. I have three little kids, and trust me, my writing ended when that bus pulled up. But guess what, if today was supposed to be a writing day, then make tomorrow the day to do laundry, vacuum, and get your oil change. Those household tasks aren’t going anywhere. Now don’t misunderstand me. I hate a dirty house, dishes in the sink, laundry piled up. What I am trying to say is, if today is a writing day, make it a Writing Day (proper noun). It should never be something to check off on a to-do list. Because guess what… you’ll never check it off, and the procrastination demon will go to bed that night with a tummy full of victory.