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Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

So it is time for my semi-annual blog post.

I’m kidding. But not really kidding because even though I get prompted by my computer, tablet and smartphone, to post something every Wednesday, I still don’t stop and jot enough words to post an entry.

Steven Pressfield calls it Resistance (See The War of Art). Others call it procrastination, and my stepmother used to call it being lazy. Or not trying hard enough. Or not living up to my potential. Regardless it was entirely my fault. I fear she was right. Or maybe they all are. Whatever the cause, I shall today try to overcome it.

Today’s topic is WRITING! YAY! Nothing controversial here! Well really it is about wasting time. Or rather, NOT writing I guess.

I have been writing. Really writing, every day, continuously for over 4 weeks now. It is a milestone in my personal writing resume and I am pleased to be able to note it. I am 3600 words and three chapters into a thriller novel that is stewing around in my brain and stealing sleep from me. It is going well, I just need time to work on it. Okay, I need to take time to work on it. Not make time – no on e can do that , not even The Doctor. But I digress.

Hmmm. Seems I have returned to the topic of procrastination.

So let’s talk about time.

Since I typed those five words in the previous sentence, I have been to my Gmail, read a message about a friend’s birthday today, opened Facebook to write on his timeline “Happy Birthday Old Fart” (this is a displacement technique used to offset my own feeling of inadequate mortality at my own approaching ancient-ness), read a few posts from FB friends, liked a picture of my grandkids at the zoo (so cute!), went back to Gmail, noticed a new post from a blog I follow, read it, was moved, opened it in my browser, asked a poignant question, posted it, came back here and said, “Where was I?”

34 minutes had elapsed. How do we stay on the page, on topic, focused when there is a whole world poised to distract, whose whole raison d’être is to be looked at and to distract us (me) from what we have decided we need to be doing?

  • Decide what is important.

 

    1. What you are doing has to be important to you, important enough that you can agree with yourself to shut down internet access, turn off the phone, put on your blinkers and your noise cancelling headphones and just DO THE WORK.

Yeah, like that has EVER worked! Well, sometimes it has. Like when your job depends on getting that report finished or your wife is expecting a nicely written birthday/anniversary/Christmas card that you bought just before getting on the bus home or that essay is due TOMORROW MORNING!

Deadlines. Deadlines work. If you HAVE to get is done by such-and-such a time you are suddenly motivated and focused and can do the work. Not your BEST work maybe, but who knows because really, do you ever do your best work unless you are under the gun?

The Muse most writers really need

Cartoon by J.C. Hines – buy a mug to remind you!

So provide yourself a deadline to get something finished. Mine is: By 1300 today you need to post your promised blog. Darn – that’s really sneaking up. I’d better get busy.

 

 

  • Set a time limit.

 

    1. I have been using Sarah Selecky’s Daily Writing Prompts to write for at least 10 minutes every day. Sometimes the prompts play into the novel, sometimes they lead to a new story or idea. The great thing is that I write creatively (almost) every day, I look forward to it, and I miss it when I don’t write.

 

So, set an achievable time limit: 30 minutes, 20…10. Whatever you think you can fit in. Do it at the same time every day. get to work early, do it on the bus (then translate bumpy writing later!) Coffee break, the first 10 minutes of lunch, last ten minutes of your work day, last 10 minutes of your day. To quote Patrick Rothfuss: Sit your ass down and Write!
That is enough for now. I don’t want to waste your time.

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I am faced with a quandary. I want to write. According to my own personally selected Word of the Year, DAILY, I need to write daily. This word was selected to support me in my desire to write.
I also need to exercise daily.
I need to learn something new daily.
I am not sure there is enough day in each day to allow me to do all I wish to do daily.
OR there may not be enough energy in me to do what I want to do every day. I am getting older.
At the end of the working day, sitting in front of my computer all day, I do not feel the energy or the urge to sit in front of my computer at home for an hour or two. (Would that be “urgenergy”? English changes every day).
My lovely wife wants me to visit with her, as she may have been alone and working hard all day at her art business, or on a painting. I am inclined to do this with her. I like visiting with my wife, she is an interesting person and I like her. Also there is the idea of making and eating supper. Some days she cooks and some days I cook, but we must both eat and that takes time. As does cleaning up after dinner. By the time all that is done, it is time to relax for a bit, with either a book or the Ijit Box (TV) We like movies and British TV dramas. Netflix lets us watch several episodes at a time. Without commercials.
And then it is time for bed.
I wonder how much of what I am experiencing is Resistance a la Steven Pressfield? Probably most, if not all of it.
A friend and fellow writer, told the story of working at a local paper and stopping his work each day at noon and writing a part of his novel over his lunch hour. He did this more or less faithfully every day, and at the end of a year had a complete first draft. He wrote on weekends too. Longer on weekends, but on the same project. He also did free-lance work to help pay the bills. That is amazing to me. That is commitment and a terrific work ethic. It is the ability to switch gears from doing “work writing” to doing the “Work of Writing”, and then switch gears back. Almost Every Day.
Commitment is hard. Work ethic is hard. Work ethic involves sitting down and starting. It might have been Neil Gaiman who said, “Writing isn’t hard. Sitting down to write is hard.”
Starting is hard. Sitting down and starting is really, really hard. There is a reason why the word “starting” sounds so much like the word “stuttering”. Words have to be pulled forth with effort. Fragments of concepts  pr…pr…pr…pressed together. Fingers have to be taught where the keys are on the keyboard again. The idea machine needs a good firm kick to get it to cough up some icky hairballs of original thoughts.
Until you start working on something you really want to work on.  Something you are pulled into by your muse. Something you come to love. The words flow, the ideas spark forth, fingers fly, paragraphs build and lo and behold, hours have gone by. Not such a great thing to happen at work, over lunchtime, because it is a wrench to stop. But better if it happens there than to not happen at all.
Ah! Maybe that is the thing to grab and concentrate on. Getting to that feeling, that flow, even for a short time, is better than not getting there at all, because there is “not enough time.”
So. I’ll fit in my workouts at noon. And also use that time to think about writing, or reading about writing (daily learning).
And I will fit in an hour of writing time someplace, in five minute pieces if I have to, over the course of the day.
Every day.
I shall pick away at RESISTANCE, until it becomes resistance. Until it fades away. Until I overcome it.
Daily.

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Edmonton: A new week. This one promises to be somewhat warmer than the last two. -18C this morning with a high of -6C promised. We shall see.
Quinn MacDonald’s post was about re-examining my Word of the Year.

My word is DAILY.

When I first wrote it down I coupled it with other words: Effort, Habit, Consistent, Commitment. I think it works with all of these and it seems to me to relate to many things in my life. One thing they relate to is lists. Lists are great. Lists are a way to capture things that need to get done, or packed, or put away, or bought at the grocery store. Lists are a way to ensure we are working on the things that are important and not getting dragged down the rabbit holes of distraction and instant gratification. (See this great post on WaitButWhy.com about procrastination. Later. After you finish this short but pithy self-examination.

Lists are good. Here is my list for 2015:

I need to write daily.
I need to exercise daily.
I need to be mindful of eating habits daily.
I need to commit to my job daily.

Lists are great, but for me they seem to stand as silent judgement on all I did not get done, which says more about me than it does about my lists. So now, my list is above.
I still need daily to-do lists, calendar reminders, ticklers, post-it-notes, and “git ‘er done” prompts. They all need to ft into one of those four categories though.

This list seems like a list I can live with.

A list that may assist me.

Daily.

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