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Pushing Through Procrastination by Sia Huff

Procrastination: the act or habit of postponing or delaying
In other words…not taking action. And isn’t that what we expect our hero and heroine to do? Go on a quest, find the treasure, defeat the bad guy, vanquish the evil queen. Just as there is no story without the protagonist taking steps and overcoming conflict to achieve their goal (actions), there is no story if the author does not write. What good is a scene if it unfolds in the writers mind, but is never put down on paper? Writing is creating. Creating is an action.

If we’re procrastinating, we’re passive. Passive is waiting for our muse to come out of hiding and tell us what to say. But each of us have something to say. Stories to tell.

So what’s holding you back?

Self-doubtWhat makes you think you can do this?
– Those ugly negative “can’t” voices in your head.
→ Try reading and reciting affirmations. Find one or two that resonates with you & tape them where you can see them while you write.

Worry what others will thinkOh, you write those kind of books?
– My brother will never approve of what I write. Well, I didn’t write with him in mind, so it shouldn’t appeal to him. I never shared my love of reading romance with him either, so what he believes shouldn’t matter.
→ Don’t overvalue other’s responses & opinions. Each persons life experience is different. What speaks to one, may not speak to another.
→ Don’t let the discomfort or embarrassment of someone who loves you become your own. Realize it’s their issue to deal with and let it go.

Fear of FailureI’ll never – fill in the blank – get it right.
– Writing is something that comes from deep within us. If the writing is rejected, so is the person. But wait, that’s wrong. They are not rejecting you. We read a certain author because we can relate to them.
→ Understand everyone fails. Failure teaches lessons that we need to succeed.
→ True failure is quitting something we love.

Fear of Success – I’m working so hard now and all I’ve heard is there’s even more stress once your published. DEADLINES!
– Success isn’t one size fits all. Realize everyone views success differently.
→ Try mapping out specific steps to help you achieve your vision of success.

PerfectionismWait! I’m not finished. Just one more revision.
– You set unattainable standards and work feverishly. Yet you can’t let go and send your baby off into the editor universe. Your fear of letting go is as real as putting your kindergartener on the bus the first day of school.
→ Try instead to focus on your progress.
→ Perfectionist have those lists and maps. Tick off those check marks & when each items is done – send your baby off for an exciting adventure.

OverwhelmedThere’s so much to do. How can I do it all?
– Writing a complete manuscript can be daunting & turn into the inability to make decisions. Add to that, you work a full-time day job. You have a husband, kids, bills to pay, dinner to make, homework to check, a taxi service to run…it can all become too much. You’re stressed, overtired, miss opportunities, feel guilty, which in turn stops you from producing.
→ Try making your project more manageable by breaking it into smaller segments.
→ Try making a list and prioritize. What is most important to you now?

Getting DistractedEewww, look, something shiny. –Dory from Finding Nemo
– Distractions are all around us. Laundry. Kids. TV. Kids. Facebook. Kids. Solitaire. Did I mention kids?
→ Try moving to a place conducive to you working. A friend of mine goes to the library every weekend without fail.
→ Try setting goals & reward yourself when you achieve them.

You may find that you suffer from one or more of these insidious behaviors. I certainly have and several of the strategies above have helped me over the years.

Procrastination – The Musical  Click on the link to view a fun 2 minute video.

 

I belong to a Procrastination Group. That’s right – women who choose to procrastinate together. Just kidding. We’re a group of writers who set goals and report our weekly progress. This is a no judgment zone – just encouragement. Without these wonderful ladies, I wouldn’t be half as far as I am.

Now there are other kick-butt types of boot camps. There are people who can write under those types of pressure. And if that works for you – great – go for it. I know I can’t.

Which brings me to my last point. Know yourself! Figure out what makes you tick. What makes you focus? What keeps you going? What stops you cold? What holds you back?

Understand your positive and immerse yourself with it. Understand your negative and avoid it.

Find other writers that have the same purpose, who are willing to set goals and want to support each other. Surround yourself with people who want your success almost as much as you do.

So what about you? Do you procrastinate? What do you do to delay your progress? And what can you change to make your writing dreams come true?

Marilyn Baron - June 16, 2014 - 9:04 am

Great post about a very universal problem. I watched the video and when it got to the part about doing laundry I put in a load of wash. Check that off my list. When I feel overwhelmed, I make a list and (if I don’t lose the list) I try to accomplish the most important thing on that list each day. It doesn’t always work out because it is easier to procrastinate. I usually work better when there’s a deadline because I’m deadline oriented due to my journalism background.

Coincidentally, I just read a novel called “The Other Story” by Tatiana De Rosnay (author of Sarah’s Key) about a young man who had written a debut bestseller, sold 30 million copies worldwide and had a movie made based on his book. He was riding high. He had a mega-contract for a second book. His problem? Four years later, he couldn’t deliver. Here’s why in a paragraph that will resonate with writers.

“Nicolas wonders….if he will ever be able to disconnect himself from his phone, from his e-mails, from Facebook, from Twitter. Will he ever be cured of this addiction? Maybe he should go someplace where there is no mobile reception, no Internet access. What about those writing residences, monasterylike places where recalcitrant authors are sent, locked up, and forced to write? He visualizes himself hunched over sheets of paper, Montblanc in hand, scribbling away in a bare, high-ceilinged room overlooking a magnificent landscape. Twice a day, a scrawny. grim woman in black, reminiscent of Dahpne du Maruier’s Mrs. Danvers, would wordlessly bring him a tray with tea, bread, and soup.

“He reads his last notes. Notes for the *&****** book he is pretending to be writing.”

Connie Gillam - June 16, 2014 - 10:14 am

Great post, Sia.

Like Marilyn when I need to focus, I write a list. Sometimes the things I need to get done first on the list seem overwhelming and I find myself doing the easy items first. It gives me a false sense of accomplishment but doesn’t eliminate the stress.

So I guess there are all levels of procrastination.

Walt Mussell - June 16, 2014 - 11:40 am

Yes, I procrastinate a lot. I got focused with contests, but seemed to be floundering a bit after that. Working on it.

Piper - June 16, 2014 - 12:23 pm

A great post, Sia with some good fixes I’m going to try. And your example is spot on Marilyn. I suspect the same thing is happening to Kathryn Stockett somewhere. It happened to Margaret Mitchell. Fear of success is a biggie for me. We all want success, but hat kind that silences you? Very scary.

Susan Carlisle - June 16, 2014 - 12:55 pm

Thanks Sia. I’m procrastinating as I post this. Two weeks and I need twenty thousand words. As I watch the video as they say I’m procrastinating. I’m off to write now.

Carol Burnside - June 16, 2014 - 1:09 pm

Great post and some good advice. I’m a procrastination pro.

Pam Asberry - June 16, 2014 - 1:55 pm

Great post, Sia. Where my writing is concerned, I am definitely paralyzed by fear of failure. I need to learn better how to push through it.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:38 pm

Sorry I’m late today. Special day with hubby celebrating our anniversary. No Wi-Fi at the lunch place.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:44 pm

Hi Marilyn,
Yes, I do understand the writers delimma. You need to write, and you have to be on social media. Some writers get “addicted”. Probibly because writing is a solitare time. Unless you count your character. :)
Your journalism background does you credit. And lists are a fabulous tool. Glad you know the key that helps you move through procrastation.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:46 pm

Hi Connie,
I think doing the easiest things first is smart. A trick to get you started. I’m for whatever gets you going. Maybe the way to think of it is, small steps first.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:49 pm

Hi Walt,
It’s good to know what gets you focused. So what’s the next level after contests? To finish the book? Revise? Sumbit? You can take these steps.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:52 pm

Hi Piper,
Thanks so much. Glad you got something out of it. Success can be scary. What will happen? What are the demands? Fear of success is also called Fear of the unknown. It’d be easier if we had a magic crystal ball, but then, we might some of the excited of discovery. I hope you achieve all the success you want.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:57 pm

Hi Susan,
You’re very welcome. You are one of the few writer friends I know that can do 20,000 words in 2 weeks. That’s 10,000 a week OR less than 1,500 words a day. You know I’m rooting for you.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 9:59 pm

Hi Carol,
And thanks. We are procrastinate at one time or another. But lately, you’re burning up the pages writing. A lot of books coming out. I’m happy for you.

Sia Huff - June 16, 2014 - 10:02 pm

Hi Pam,
Thanks. :) I was there too, Pam. One idea that helped me through, If I don’t make a good effort, then I automatically fail. And like I said, success is relative. Each of us have different goals. And didn’t you final for the Maggie’s last year. That’s a huge success. You can get there, Pam. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Debbie Kaufman - June 17, 2014 - 8:03 am

LOL, I would have commented yesterday…I kept meaning to…., there’s a reason why “day late and a dollar short” is a phrase that comes to my mind often. Perfectionism and distraction seem to be my faithful friends in the Procrastination cycle :)

Sandy Elzie - June 18, 2014 - 10:09 am

Sia, great article. We’re all guilty of procrastination at least once in a while…especially when it’s something we dread doing. (Mine is housework…..I need a cleaning lady once a week!!!)

You’ll make it…just hang in there.

Sia Huff - June 18, 2014 - 8:07 pm

I do understand, Debbie. Even if you know the reason, perfectionism & distractions can be hard to conquer, but it is possible. Here’s hoping you start a new cycle soon…without procrastination lurking close by.

Sia Huff - June 18, 2014 - 8:11 pm

Thanks, Sandy. I agree, everyone lets procrastination take control every once in a while. The trick is to know how to shake it. Housework? Well, I agree there as well, a housekeeper would be lovely.

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