Thursday, May 18, 2006


Hello, my name is Gail, and I'm a Procrastinator.

Don't you think there ought to be a twelve-step program for us? Procrastination certainly gets in the way of accomplishing what we want to do. The last time it was my turn to blog, I wrote about fear, which is one reason we procrastinate. But today, when it's my turn to blog again, it's mid-afternoon and I am finally getting around to it. It has taken me this long to get here is due to my methods of coping with my procrastination. (Or maybe it's not procrastination--maybe it's my disorganized approach to organization...)

Like many people, I have more stuff I want to do than I have time to do it in. Which means prioritizing. And for me, it means writing my priorities down in lists because if I don't, I'll forget something--and I might forget it anyway. I can't keep up with anything technological or even one of those dayplanner things. I use a little spiral notebook. Right now, I have a calendar my best friend gave me that is just like a little spiral notebook, only with dates included. And on the top of every page is WRITE.

I print it in all caps and add the abbreviation for whatever manuscript I'm working on. Then lower on the page, I add all the other stuff I want to do that day. Dust the new bookshelves and move books. Revise my workshop for RWA National. Laundry. Call for a haircut. But the writing always goes at the top. Because I have found that if I don't do the writing first, I often don't get to it at all.

I put everything else aside and devote my mornings to the writing. Even though that's when it's cool enough to stand to get outside and dig that stupid Bermuda grass out of my flower beds, and cool enough to walk to the post office for the mail. Even though I was signed up to blog here at the 2BRead side today. I wrote. Got 5-1/2 pages squeezed out. (The insurance adjuster came to look at my poor hailed-on vehicle about half an hour before I normally quit.) (I know, excuses, excuses.) I didn't even remember I was supposed to blog today (even though I sent myself a reminder yesterday) until I got online after lunch and the post office to check e-mail. I forgot to put it in my to-do list.

My list really helps with the procrastination. After I move something from one page to the next four or five times, I get sick of looking at it and actually DO it. Most of the time. (The haircut thing tends to take a couple of weeks before I there.) It helps me get the books written, because with WRITE at the top of every page, I'm reminded that I need to do it first.

But sometimes, my methods of dealing with my natural procrastination mean that other stuff gets forgotten, or done just a teensy bit late. Am I the only one this disorganized?


Nancy Herkness said...

Gail, can you hear me clapping and shouting "Brava!"? That's for putting "WRITE" at the top of your list every day. You have earned my undying admiration for that.

I'm so tired of hearing people say, "I'd write a book if only I had the time."

I'm certainly guilty of letting "WRITE" get moved down to the middle or even falling off the list on certain days. But I know I'm doing a Bad Thing when that happens. Then I try not to let it happen again for a long time.

Okay, I'm going to go put "WRITE" on every day of my appointment calendar right now. Thanks for the inspiration!

Nancy Morse said...

I'm also a procrastinator, but only when I'm about to start a new book. Isn't it funny how everything else suddenly becomes so important, like laundry or vacuuming? Once I'm into a book, however, the laundry can pile up and the dog hair from my Alaskan Malamute can look like snow drifts, but who cares? And I also have a list which I keep on the bulletin board above my computer. The list reads:
2) Never give up!
3) Don't await a break. Losers wait for the breaks. Winners make the breaks happen.
4) Ignore rejection slips
6) Writing is demonic possession. Accept that.
7) Learn to live with fear and not to let it destroy or stop you

Some of the above is easier said than done, and as much as I'd like to always be writing, I have learned to forgive myself for those times when I just don't feel like it. Having grown up in a Catholic Italian family, there's enough guilt built into my upbringing without feeling guilty for not writing. I guess if I were a more ambitious person, I'd put my nose to the grindstone and churn those suckers out, but I am what I am, and I'm okay with that.

JoAnn Ross said...

I guess I'm the odd one out here, because while I'll procrastinate about other stuff, writing isn't one of them, because I've always thought of it pretty much as I did my other jobs. Something I do for a certain amt of time every day and for which people pay me money. So I can afford all those little luxuries like house payments and food.

And days I don't want to write, I remember all those jobs I was reluctantly doing while wishing I could someday be a writer, plus telling stories for a living sure is a lot more fun. Even on the not so good days. Which, I guess, is why I've done it nearly every day for more than two decades.

I also think weeding and walking to the post office and dusting bookscases, and all those other things (okay, maybe not the insurance adjuster) is part of the writing process, because they're the sort of mindless activities which allow your mind to rest, but also encourage it to wander, which is when some really good ideas are born.

Email, otoh, is the devil's tool. It's so easy to get caught up for hours and use all my writing energy chatting. Has me longing for those olden days of telephone calls with writer friends, which may have taken up just as much time, but didn't actually take anything away from the creative process. Which too much time spent emailing can do. For me, anyway.