By BJ LaChappelle
You have your dreams of stardom, your
wonderful ambitions, and your fantasies of making the New York Times'
Bestseller list. Good for you. Everyone needs dreams. But too much
dreaming and not enough working is procrastination. Procrastination leaves
you with no book, no money, no fame, and no results.
You know how it is. "I'm going to watch
just one show!" somehow morphs into two or three hours in front of the
television. It really wastes a lot of time you could be using for writing.
Here are a few solutions that might help
you get rid of this problem:
1. Record the show to watch later.
2. Unplug the TV -- and don't plug it back
in for a month or so. See how much you can get done without having it on.
3. Don't get cable or satellite. If you
already have it, call the company and ask to have the service turned off.
There's a lot less to watch when you only get two or three channels.
4. Don't have your writing space and the TV
in the same room. If someone else is watching TV in your house, you can go
into your writing room and shut the door. You won't get distracted by what
is on TV.
The Internet is another big time-waster.
This can also be a tricky one -- a form of procrastination you might not
recognize. Reading articles about writing is not writing. Talking to
people in chat rooms about writing is not writing. Posting things about
writing is not writing. All these things are very useful, and they make
writing better and easier, but they must not take the place of writing.
Doing endless amounts of research on the
internet for your story isn't writing, either. Read the article "Seek
and Ye Shall Find -- How to Use the Google Effectively" by
Alfred PM to help you cut time
spent researching to a minimum.
Set a time for using the
internet, and stick to it. Write your daily allotment of pages, and then
you can go online. Make time to write.
Reading books can be procrastination in
disguise. Don't get me wrong, I like books. Reading books is really good
for you. It helps you learn from other writers, and reading increases your
vocabulary. Books let you travel to places you've never been. They let you
see the world through the eyes of someone other than yourself. But reading
books doesn't replace writing them. Reading books shouldn't compromise your
career as a writer. Set a time for to read in, or try writing a certain
amount of pages before letting yourself read.
Pre-Writing and Editing
Of all the forms of procrastination, these
are the hardest ones to spot. Pre-writing is a necessary part of writing a
book, but when you spend years doing world-building, research, character
development, and plot outlining, then you've got a problem.
I know some people who say "I'll start
writing soon, but first..." Don't get caught in that death trap. It's a
guaranteed dream-killer, unless you can pull yourself out before it's too
Imagining a scene in you head is not the
same as writing it. "But I want it to be perfect," you say. Don't worry
about it. Just write. It doesn't matter whether what you write now is
flawed or not. There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. That's
what editing is for.
However, editing doesn't have to take
years, either. You don't have to do ten revisions to get a perfect,
polished jewel. Check out Holly Lisle's
One Pass Revision Technique, or Lazette Gifford's article on revision, "Re-Writing
the Beast." The purpose of revision is to finish a book so you can send
it out to the publishers and start another.
I find that it is best to write the entire book and then start revision.
Revising the first chapter without writing the rest of the book isn't very
helpful, in my opinion. Firstly, your plot could change by the time you
finish writing, and your first chapter could be utterly worthless by then.
Secondly, perfect first chapters don't sell, unless they have a full book
Check out Holly Lisle's workshop, "The
Magic of Goals," and set yourself some writing goals. Make them big,
and stick with them. Goals help get rid of procrastination. "50
Strategies for Making Yourself Work," by Jerry Oltion, is another
article that may help you stay on track.
It can be tough to avoid distractions that
keep you from writing. Remember that nothing worth doing is easy, and your
dreams are worth pursuing. Your dream of being a bestselling author won't
come true unless you write your book first. Good luck, and see you at the
Jerry Oltion, 50 Strategies for Making
yourself Work. (http)
Holly Lisle, How to Get From Here to There:
The magic of Goals.
Alfred P M, Seek and Ye Shall Find – How to
use Google effectively. (Http)
One-Pass Manuscript Revision:
From First Draft to Last in One Cycle
Lazette Gifford, Re-writing