Tag Archives: determination

How To Procrastinate

Originally posted March 23, 2012.

Are you the type who methodically maps out your writing? Do you break stories or novels down into manageable pieces, finishing a self-imposed quota each day? Do you revel in knowing that your story or article will be complete well before it’s due?

You, my friend, are missing out on one of life’s little joys. I like to call it The Game of Procrastination.

It’s easy to play. First, and most importantly, you need a deadline. Those of you working on spec are lucky enough to have one built in, but for the indies you’ll have to make one up. (If you find yourself procrastinating on even setting a deadline, you are too advanced for this game. Move along.) You need a deadline, because you can’t tell you’re procrastinating until you have one looming over your head.

Now we begin.

Sit yourself down at your computer of choice. You might choose a laptop in a cafe; this is the easy way out. There will be a ton of distractions there, most of which won’t even feel like your fault. No. For this game you should be in the comfort of your own home. Boot up your word program of choice. Crack your knuckles if you need to. Roll your head on your neck. Begin.

Wait. Maybe you should pee first. You don’t want to reach your creative zone only to be interrupted by the rude call of nature. Okay. Now that you’ve taken care of that, begin. Begin, that is, after you’ve formatted your page. You’d only have to do it later so you might as well do it now. Now, try to remember that really delightful phrase you thought of when you were at your day job. What was it? Wait, didn’t you write it down? Maybe it’s still in your pocket. You’ve changed since you got home, though, so you have to dig the pants out of the laundry. The hamper is overflowing; take a quick break to go downstairs and start some laundry.

Pass the kitchen. Make some coffee. That’s what writers do, right? You are A Writer, and you deserve your vices.

Sit down while you wait for it to brew. No point in going up to your computer, only to come back down in five minutes. Efficiency, you are a paragon of efficiency. Notice a couple squirrels on the back deck. Begin to wonder about the connection between those squirrels. Are they siblings? Squirrely little lovers?

Coffee made and back upstairs. Write a line, question the spelling of “fuschia”, look it up online. You spelled it correctly! Congrats! But your Twitter tab shows updates. You should see what’s going on. Someone’s tweeting about a cultural event they’re participating in, and you begin to realize you don’t have a “culture” of your own, sure you know your ancestors originated in Europe but what does that mean, to you, as an individual in a melting-pot nation and you begin to realize how much you don’t know about your own country, for crying out loud, it’s a shame, and you go on Amazon…nay, Chapters.ca because you’re a Canadian, dammit, and you decide now would be a great time to learn about the War of 1812, so you write down the info for the book you want and make plans to buy it later and you’re proud of yourself for not falling into a WikiHole because you have WORK TO DO and your deadline is FAST APPROACHING.

Whew. Back to work. Write a paragraph.

This coffee isn’t strong enough. You’re still sleepy. Maybe grab a quick nap, so you can recharge your creative batteries.

Wake up hours later. Oops. It is dark out. Your deadline is midnight.

Jump on that idea you had, the one about the fuschia monster, and begin to bang the keys. Maybe you should shower. That’s where you do your best thinking. Check the time: you have three hours before your deadline. Okay, a five minute shower. The hot water is relaxing. A fifteen minute shower.

Back at your desk. Throw yourself into the story, try to hit that magical place where you’re seeing the story unfold in your mind’s eye and just capturing it with keystrokes. It’s almost there, dancing maddeningly just out of reach…Check the clock. You have two hours.

Pour it on. Your fingers move without you, like it’s them telling the story, not you, and it’s working, my God it’s working, and you lose yourself in it and you only remember to breathe because some part of your monkeybrain tells you to and you check the clock and it’s down to the last hour. Check your word count. You need twice as many words as you have, so you sit forward and tune out everything around you. The house could burn down around your chair and you would keep typing. You type faster than you even knew you could, and the images and the thoughts flow out of you and it’s like you’re not even there anymore, like the ideas are writing themselves, beamed down from some heavenly Muse and you just have to get the hell out of her way.

Clock check. Half hour. No time for full sentences.

Faster. Sweat prickles. Husband peeks in on the madwoman—Not now! I’ll be human in half an hour!—and you pound the keys and the monster attacks and your hero lives or dies but now is the time to wrap it up, seam the story together and you’re high on the feeling of it and you key the last words in with five minutes to spare.

But you did it. You beat your deadline.

Every time you do this, you tell yourself you’re crazy. Next time you’ll be one of those planners, one of those normal people who don’t kill themselves to race a deadline. You know even as you think it that it won’t happen.

Because you won.


Back to the Grind

Ugh, vacation’s over. I’m back to work tomorrow.

Why is it that time spent at work feels so much longer than time spent…well, doing pretty much anything else?

I’ve always promised myself I wouldn’t post much about DayJob, having read the horror stories of people fired for same, but suffice it to say I am not looking forward to going back. That bit’s no secret.

My solution to stay sane: I’m reading 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and really thinking about ways I can still feel like my creative self while I’m going about my day. I’m not far into the book, but already I’m seeing all kinds of small ways I can get more done.

I bought a new charger for my dead netbook, so step one will be committing to writing at lunch. Tried before, didn’t stick with it, but I’ve reevaluated my priorities and I’m ready to give it another go. Besides, I’ll never get anywhere unless I really push myself.

Step two is nerding it up by self-designing new scheduling inserts for my Filofax. It seems I can’t find any that suit me, and I think I need to visually see where my time is going in order to use it better.

There’s got to be some way to get there.


Should You Be Writing Right Now?

(via Rachele Alpine)


A Counterintuitive Solution

I figured out why I was having problems meeting my daily word quotas.

It wasn’t hard enough.

I’m a hugely competitive person, and I tend to only really enjoy things that at first seem insurmountable. Looking back, I think I set my initial word goals too low. I had decided on an arbitrary number, that I knew I could accomplish, so as not to get frustrated and give up.

Instead, the opposite happened: it was too easy to reach my goal, which made my subconscious decide it was not worth doing. Something done by rote becomes boring, and what’s the point of doing something boring?

Way to screw me, Brain.

SO: my solution is to increase the number of words I expect out of myself. I’ve set my new goal at nearly double what it was before, and it seems to be working. Suddenly my brain is processing it as Shit! That’s a lot of words! Better work harder! and the ideas are back. The numbers are back.

Since there’s a worry now that I can’t possibly reach my new goal every day, I have to try harder, which makes me focus more.

My tip of the day: write scared.


Never Give Up

I was sitting here, frustrated with how the story is going (or not going), and I got a notification on Facebook.

My dear ladyfriend LP sent me this:

…completely unbidden, not knowing how cranky I was. That’s what an awesome friend does. An awesome friend just knows.

It’s been printed, and now one copy hangs in my office and one copy is the front page of my Filofax.

I’ve said it before: how badly do you want it?


If.

Honestly, I never much cared for poetry. I tried writing it myself as an angsty teenager (who hasn’t?), but it never really spoke to me or,  frankly, interested me much.

But I’m a believer in happy coincidences, and believe me, this one caught me at just the right time. Let’s just say there’s a lot of sky-is-falling going on in my life right now. I could use some bolstering.

It’s not horror, it’s not dark, it’s actually inspirational and beautiful…but rest assured I’m still working on good ol’ blood-n-guts behind the scenes. You haven’t lost me to the light side just yet.

“If”, by Rudyard Kipling.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!


Write Your Words

(This is mostly me trying to motivate myself. But if you need a good kick in the pants, feel free to join me.)

So you wanna be a full-time author? Wanna get paid to do this all day? Wanna work from home, with your cats and your coffeemaker?

You’ve done the planning. You know where you’re going, and how to get there. Now what’s the first step?

Write your words.

Tired? Too bad, write your words.
Cat threw up? Clean it up, then write your words.
Feeling uninspired? Start with something, anything, and write your words.
Other things to do? Self-doubt? Not enough time in the day? Worrying about whether this whole thing will even work out? Just plain don’t feel like it today?

Too bad, so sad, get off your lazy ass and write your fucking words.

You don’t get there by being lazy. You don’t get there by being hesitant.

You get there by working your ass off, sacrificing, and then working some more.

You can sleep later. Now it is time to WRITE YOUR WORDS.


As If I Wasn’t Busy Enough…

I’m chugging along on a multi-part writing project. I’ve been much more organized with my time lately, so I find myself reaching my word goals and actually having time left over.

There’s only one solution to extra time, when you’re a Type A like me.

You take on another massive project.

Enter a giant, beautiful knitted blanket.


(From ShellyKang.com; click the pic for info on her project and pattern.)

It just so happens I have all this yarn around…and lots of spare moments that find me away from my writing and laptop…Oh yes. It WILL be mine.


Fuck Yeah.

“This picture I’m gonna do right now is gonna suck, but I’m gonna do it anyways, just to see how bad it’s gonna look.
Fuck yeah.

I may do something REALLY good maybe once a month, but then I completely screw it up once I color it.
Fuck yeah.

I love art.
Fuck yeah.”

by forums user kool-ka-lang on Conceptart.org. Read the rest here, get pumped, and get creating.


A Morning Person? Me??

Hah, bet that got your attention.

Seriously, though, I’m still trying to get into some sort of steady writing routine. My work schedule is kind of all over the place, so it’s been hard with this job to find a constant. I was finding that I’d come home from a long day at DayJob, and sit in front of the internet until it was time for bed. I’d write, sure, but I wasn’t getting either the quality or the volume I wanted.

I’ve always enjoyed staying up late, and I’ve always slept in. I decided to get up earlier and knock out a couple hours’ writing every morning before work. I used to think I could only be creative at night, but looking back that was a flawed assumption. Of course it seemed like I could only do stuff at night; I was sleeping in until the last possible moment before work.

I decided on this new morning plan a couple of weeks ago. Today was the first day it went according to plan.

The results? I grabbed a coffee and some breakfast, chowed while I caught up on time-wasters, and by the time I had finished breakfast I was ready to go.

I met my word-count goal for the entire day within an hour of waking.

Not only that, but already having accomplished my self-imposed goal for the day put me in a much better headspace for DayJob. I felt great.

My God, I think I’m becoming one of…those people.


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