Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

 

Defeating Procrastination

By BJ LaChappelle
2006,
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.

Television

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.

Internet   

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.

Books

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 late.

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.   

Note: 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 attached.

Beating Procrastination

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 top!

Works Cited

Jerry Oltion, 50 Strategies for Making yourself Work. (http)

http://sfwa.org/writing/strategies.html

Holly Lisle, How to Get From Here to There: The magic of Goals. http://fmwriters.com/Visionback/issue13/Issue13/Workshop.htm

Alfred P M, Seek and Ye Shall Find How to use Google effectively. (Http)

http://www.writing-world.com/basics/google.shtml

Holly Lisle, One-Pass Manuscript Revision: From First Draft to Last in One Cycle

http://www.sscdc.net/hlvision/Issue9/Workshop.htm

Lazette Gifford, Re-writing the beast http://fmwriters.com/Visionback/Issue17/workshop.htm