Writing and Procrastination

“The road to success is lined with many tempting parking spaces.”

This is sooo true! The road isn’t straight, it has lots of twists, turns, a few nasty speed humps and plenty of options to park-aka procrastinate!

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My WIP has been sitting idle in a parking space for some time now. Last week, I had a genuine excuse as I was preparing for a job interview. But that excuse came and went by 3pm on Tuesday, along with my make-up (left in a puddle on the floor) and my ‘corporate’ clothes (peeled off like a 2nd skin) after I sweated like a race horse in 25 degree heat during my first interview in over six years.

On Wednesday, my excuse for not tackling the WIP was the weather.

How often does Scotland get temperatures that beat Majorca? It was waay too hot to be stuck inside on my laptop. And I managed to come up with loads of other excuses – physio appointment, Local Nature Reserve group meeting, viewing a house for sale, painting my toenails…

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It’s amazing how easy it is to waste fill my day without writing a single word of my dissertation (I hope my uni supervisor doesn’t read this). So why am I stalling? My motto has always been, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today”?  Is it because I got a rejection and my confidence is low? Is it because I’m afraid that my WIP will be no better than my previous efforts? Did I need a break after the course assignments? Or am I just being lazy? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, I haven’t got the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike, heatwave or not, I need to pull the finger out and get stuck into the WIP before the dissertation deadline creeps up and bites me on the butt. And get back on the road!

I’m sure that I’m not alone but how do others manage to stay motivated? I’d love to hear from other writers and read their tips, once I’ve topped up my tan, cleared the loft, walked the dogs…

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3 thoughts on “Writing and Procrastination

  1. Problems we can all relate to, Helen! The fact that my first manuscript exists at all is down to being part of a brilliant writing group that meets every two weeks, with a tough but constructive critical ethos and a mentor who keeps raising the bar. This is also the reason I’m sitting here plugging away at chapter 3 of a second novel despite having no idea what’s going to become of the first. I’ve never taken less than a full new chapter to the group and knowing that I have to read it out and listen to comments is a great incentive to try not to write total drivel. Without deadlines I would achieve nothing. Good luck with your dissertation, I’m sure you’ll pull it out of the bag!

  2. The answer for me is deadlines, same as Isabel. I have discovered they can work whether self-imposed or from outside, although the latter always exerts a more urgent influence. So I’m self-imposing some even as I write (well, today, anyway), and am about to start the second novel (honest!)

  3. Great post, Helen and I love the diagram – even if ‘checking email’ was greatly understated 😉 I’m not sure I suffer from lack of motivation as much as inverse-prioritisation (I made that up, I think). The cleaning, washing, cooking – yawn – all have to be done, of course, but how come it’s the writing (paid and unpaid) which I squeeze in at the end, causing self-enforced ridiculous deadlines, rather than skimping on the other stuff? I wonder if it’s because I know that once I do start writing, everything else will be side-lined until I am forced to stop.
    In an effort to avoid this suspect prioritisation, I set an alarm clock and allow myself, say, an hour of trying to create a little order knowing that once that alarm goes off, I have to down tools and get back to my desk.
    If I can’t get started, I go back over something I’ve written previously and that tends to get me back in the groove. If not, I write a blog post, or a short story, failing that I go for a run which might look like deviation from the task in hand but it is amazing how often I come back with the next chapter all wrapped up in my head, and failing that, well I guess I do the hoovering…
    I hope you get the muse back quickly, once you’re back at it, you know you won’t be able to stop. Good luck!

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