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Sunday, 13 January 2013

Procrastination - Thief of Time - Part 1


Are you working smart? Or is it time to work in a more effective way?

After speaking to several writing buddies yesterday, and reviewing my own list of goals from last week, it occurred to me that some of us are failing to get the results we are striving to achieve, and that got me to looking at the problem more closely.

A few months back, several of us formed a group which meets monthly to discuss subbing our work for publication, and competition. We set out with good intention, each selecting target markets, and publicly committing to do what we said we were going to do, however this has proved more difficult for some than others.

We chatted about the dreaded procrastination that seems to catch up with us all in some way, or other. Deciding we would make an effort between now, and the next meeting in February, to try and stick to our targets. Agreeing this would take effort, and in almost every case, working smarter.

There seems to be a few hurdles we need to get over.

UNDERESTIMATING

When we set our goals, to get from A to B, we sometimes don't realise fully the distance we need to travel to get to our destination, and don't factor any breaks along the way, to rest, and review our progress. Then the journey proves to be too much, we grow weary, start to falter and in some cases we give up, feeling a failure.  This is bad for the soul.

The answer is to review your goals regularly, break them down into manageable chunks, and adjust any plan. Don't be afraid to re-route. Use any resource available to you along the way. Which brings me nicely to the next point.

COMFORT ZONE

Your'e frightened to step outside of your cosy world. You do the same things week in, week out. Talk to the same people, go to the same places. Do you do your writing at the same time of day? Maybe you would benefit from meeting new people, reading a different genre, taking your writing out to the library, or the coffee shop. Doing things differently will keep you fresh and motivated. You won't have time to stagnate or become stuck in a rut.

FEAR

Are you delaying sending that article out, or that short story you wrote? Are you afraid it isn't good enough? If you don't get it out there, you'll never know if its any good will you? Face the fear, just do it! When success comes, you'll be glad you did.

TALKERS AND DO'ERS 

Stop trying to justify why things aren't working, stop talking about it. Instead devise a way to make things work. Brainstorm the problem, use a big sheet of paper if necessary, and write down what you want to achieve, think out solutions of how you are going to get there - then plan it, and get on, and do the stuff required to get moving. Galvanise yourself into action - you'll feel happier.

GIVING UP

You know what they say, 'quitters never win, and winners never quit!' Don't give up before you've really got going. We all reach a stage with whatever we are trying to do, when we feel fed up, we just need to get through it.

I never wanted to learn to drive, I used to hate going for the lessons, but I stuck with it, learning at odd hours when I would much rather be doing something else. I plodded on, failing tests, and struggling to learn lots of rules, and regulations. I'm so glad I did. It opened doors for me, and broadened my horizons in many ways. I know its the same in writing once one good thing happens.

Enlist help. Surround yourself with positive people. Folk who have a 'can do' attitude. Buddy up with another writer, and report in with them. Arrange a weekly meet up, or a phone call, or an email to let them know how you're progressing, what you've achieved so far during the week, and don't be afraid to speak of any problems with your WIP. They might have help at hand in the guise of advice, or sometimes just talking it through with someone else can really help to clear your mind.

Also, don't forget to ask them how their writing is going too. Having a writing buddy is a two way relationship. A good one can do wonders for your work.

There are many ways to work smarter, and enough here to think about for now. I have to go, and work on another part of my 'Sunday' plan, but I'll be back later to read your comments. Do leave any tips on how to beat the 'Thief of Time' that procrastination is...I love receiving your comments and do my best to answer every one.

22 comments:

  1. Procrastination can be a writers worst enemy. Creeping up on us and urging us to do something more important instead! Take today, it was beautiful, the first sunny day in... well so long I can'te even remember! So instead of writing (my normal Sunday treat) I went out for a long walk with a couple of friends. But it has refreshed me and that is important too. Have a good week.

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    1. Hello Suzanne, I'm in your camp - if I see sunshine on a winters day I have to get out! I'm pleased you had a lovely walk, its good to mix things up, and breathing in fresh air is good for the grey matter too...

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  2. Your point to keep reviewing your goals is a good one. Being flexible and making adjustments along the way helps you keep your sanity.

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    1. Sanity, now there is a subject for the blog! Writers are the only souls I know that are constantly worrying if there work is good enough, long enough, short enough rhymes enough etc

      I have to have a 'to do' list otherwise I am aimless. :-)

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  3. Breaking goals down into manageable pieces is a good idea, thanks for the great post :-)

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    1. You're welcome. Have a good week in writing.

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  4. That's a good post. Constantly adjusting goals is important so we don't get lost in them.
    Duncan In Kuantan

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    1. Yes, I am constantly having to revise my novel plan. You have reminded me, I need to write a list...

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  5. Love this post, Maria! I fell victim to underestimation in a BIG way this weekend, with my writing. You've just reminded me, I need to set up my 'To Do' list for the week ahead. Thanks!

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    1. Thanks Catherine...it happens sometime. I felt he same last week with my goals. Totally underestimated time!

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  6. i have many faults but procrastination is not even in the top 20----great post :)

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    1. Oh Lynn, I'm sure you don't have that many... ;-)

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  7. Great post. Just what I needed to read this week. I've been convincing myself that there is value in checking Twitter every 5 minutes instead of writing or researching!

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    1. I sympathise, I fell into the same cycle myself, its so easy to get caught up. I'm in a good phase at the moment where I don't spend more than about ten minutes a day on Twitter. It can be very addictive, and in the past I have been known to waste a couple of hours on Twitter!

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  8. If I had a tip on how to avoid procrastination I suspect I'd be marching down to the Post Office right now with some A4 size envelopes instead of sitting beside a To Do list of manuscripts to be completed and sent out!

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    1. Oh Ros, you make me laugh...I have enveloped up a competition entry today, just got to motivate myself to take it to the post box now!

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  9. I really struggle at time management... sorry, that's all I've got time to say :-)

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  10. Very wise tips. Our lives change, which means our goals should also change. And for time management I have clones.

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    1. I think having clones is an attractive proposition.

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  11. When I really need to get some writing done, I use a spreadsheet. For novel writing I use a spreadsheet for the outline and highlight scenes in different colours with dates to be done by etc. If I need to get the word count up: I set daily, weekly, monthly word count targets and update what I've done as I go. I always set targets way higher than I'll do as then I get more done. Having said all that: haven't done for ages and need to do with my book 2 so I can send to the RNA New Writers' Scheme in August. Best of luck with your writing Maria!

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  12. Wow! You are an organised woman, I wish I was good with spreadsheets, I like your ideas...and may copy the different colour pen thing you do too.

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I really appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment, and I try to reply to every one. Many thanks!