The Art of Procrastination

procrastinating

I always knew that I had a tendency to procrastinate when it came to doing things that I really didn’t want to do but I had no idea I could procrastinate so professionally when it came to things I really do want to do. Let me explain.

Having published my debut novel back in January, I’m now working on book 2 with a projected publication date of January 2019. It seemed like a long time off when I set that goal but as I’m now nearly two thirds of the way through the year, and no-where near two-thirds of the way through my book, I’m beginning to feel a little unsettled. I know what I want to write, I have time in evenings, weekends and holidays to actually write it and I’m 100% motivated to publish my second book, and yet…

So what exactly is getting in my way?  I’m going to do my best to work round the notion that it’s lack of self-discipline, so bear with me. First up, I’m pointing a finger at social media. Now, to be fair, one of the things I’ve had to learn pretty fast since publishing book 1 is how to work the social media side of things. It doesn’t come naturally and I was dragged kicking and whimpering onto Twitter and Facebook. Of course once the initial efforts payed off and I started to see some activity, I was hooked. Instead of productively writing of an evening I instead found myself scrolling through twitter feeds, getting into conversations, making connections and spending hours thinking about the design for the next Facebook post and what ‘word of the week’ might interest followers.  The old advice of ‘put ten minutes aside each day’ just didn’t apply. Most days, it took me longer than ten minutes to type out the perfect reply to the first tweet on my feed. I’ve learned it can be fun, it can be creative and it can be very, very time-consuming. I’ve also learned that it’s essential to invest in time to develop your ‘brand’ and to market yourself and your book as a new self-published indie author.  I have not yet figured out the way round this conundrum (writing time versus social media / marketing time) but I’m confident I will one day meet the person who will help me make sense of it all. This has no doubt been my biggest challenge as a self-published author.

But back to procrastination…

Take this summer, for example. It’s been one of the hottest on record and one of the few during which I’ve been able to lie out in the sun as the sun worshiper I am and fully appreciate the warmth. However it’s not that easy to see the screen on the laptop when the sun is shining brightly and my brightness levels only go so far and I don’t want to  accidentally delete a chapter because I can’t see where the cursor is and I might have highlighted a large section by mistake. A few failed attempts at writing in the sun (including a near drop of the laptop on account of suncream on my hands) and I quickly made the decision to save my writing for the evenings when I wouldn’t be sitting at a desk knowing I was missing that rare and glorious sunshine. I would use daylight hours to read on my lounger because reading is just as important as writing and I haven’t been doing enough of it lately. In the evenings though other things happen, like the above mentioned social media, discussions with family about my writing, checking book sales and reviews, going for a walk because I have to have some exercise (writing is such a sedentary thing to do) and watching a little TV to relax because you need to clear your head every once in a while so new, inspired plot ideas can emerge from the sub-conscious.

When I finally do sit down at my computer, at my new writing desk in my new writing nook, my supportive other half offers me a cuppa. One of my two ragdoll cats usually finds his way onto my keyboard about then and, having petted him and coddled him for a while and finished my cuppa talking to my other half I decide a little background music might be the very thing to help me on my way. What shall I listen to this evening? Remember that song from the 80’s? Let’s take a minute to watch it on youtube. You play that one for me then I’ll pick one for you. Another cuppa? And so it goes.

So what exactly is going on here? Having spent a considerable amount of time thinking about this, not procrastinating, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because writing is actually damn hard. You may know what you want to write and you may have time and you may be motivated but actually sitting in front of that blank screen, choosing the words which will fill it is a different matter altogether. It can be a daunting thought (even if only sub-consciously) because let’s face it, it’s going to take a lot of words on a lot of blank pages to finish that novel. What I’ve also learned however, is that once you start typing, even if it’s just a few of those damn tricky and hard to find words, you’re suddenly in the zone. And it’s a good place to be, the zone. It’s filled with a tangle of wonderful words and ideas which you and you alone are crafting into a story to share with the world. That has to better than a twitter feed scan, another cuppa, or a quick trip down the Duran Duran memory lane.

Of course there is an element of self-discipline required too, but I think before I get into that one I’ll just take a quick look at my e-mails…

 

2 Comments on “The Art of Procrastination

  1. You and I are such kindred spirits…

    Being ready to leave my hotel for breakfast this morning, a quick scan of Twitter surfaced an opportunity to tweet promotionally about my podcast and by the time I’d crafted that, posted it not just to Twitter but also 3 Facebook locations, I’d lost an hour. Social media and time management do not go hand in hand.
    (To be fair I read your blog over breakfast, a late one.)

    When writing I tend to procrastinate most when it’s something I’m not really excited to write. There’s no inspiration. Yet once written, I’m usually quite surprised by the end result and wonder why I resisted getting started for so long.

    Writing, of any type, is hard work!

    Like

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