Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh, Look! Shiny! by Anna J Stewart

Hello, my name is Anna and I am a procrastinator.  

Not just any procrastinator mind you, but an extraordinary one.  The super hero of procrastinators.  When they update the dictionary, they shall put my picture on the page because...yeah. You get the idea. I am the Dory of the writing world...distracted by one shiny object after another.

I've procrastinated writing this blog for two weeks now, ignoring the big red circle around the date on my calendar because honestly, I could not think about what to write.  This time of year, as my six months of work deluge finally dies back and I can refocus on writing (yay!), I am, for all intents and purposes brain dead.  Apparently I'm also filled with the desire to write cliche after cliche today, but it's been that kind of week.

Why is it, when the one thing I love more than anything in the world, writing a book, at times it's the most difficult thing to do.  I have a huge sign over my writing desk, a quote from one of my early writing inspirations, Stephen King (*bows*).  Writing = Butt in Chair.  And yet at times I will do anything--and by anything I mean cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, checking the air filter in the AC--to avoid diving into the pages I HAVE to write. 

Maybe that's part of it.  Writing is no longer a hobby for me--I've signed a contract (or two). It's now an obligation. It's a job. That book I spent oh, years perfecting so it would sell?  It sold. Now I get to write the second in the series by September (while trying not to think about the third that's due in January).   And I think, honestly, it's got me scared.  What's that (cliche) saying...be careful what you wish for?  I got it--in spades and now I've got to deal.  So what do I do?

Ooooh, research art forgery in every way possible. Shop for reference book. How about rewriting the opening to that book that's due in September oh, about 5 times until it feels "right".  How about...sucking it up and writing the blessed book?

Yeah, that sounds good (and something my critique partners would say, in fact I bet they're saying it right now).  Here's where I remind myself how lucky I am.  That dream I had about being a writer? About publishing my books? About getting my stories out there for someone other than my family and friends to read?  It came true!

I can put my butt in that chair and write--I've done it before, it's what got me here.  For years I worried that writing would stop being fun once it became "work", but you know, it's always been work.  Now it's work that pays and that, when all is said and done, is IT.  Someone is paying me to tell my stories.

No more procrastinting for me. Time to write!  Right?  I mean...oh, look!  Finding Nemo's on!

Hands up!  What do you procrastinate about (or tell me I'm all alone in this)?  And what's your favorite coping mechanism when the words just aren't there?



31 comments:

  1. Was I multitasking . . . or procrastinating!?

    I have to confess that I previewed your blog last night. I smiled a lot and laughed when I got to the Finding Nemo part!

    I was working on my second Heartwarming manuscript when I decided to check our blog to see how many "views" my Wednesday post ended up attracting. While I was there, the title of your post caught my attention and, yes, I took the time to read it in preview mode.

    I tend to be disciplined about dealing with things as they arise (my business approach has always been that I try not to handle any piece of correspondence or e-mail twice; that is I read it, deal with it and move on). One would think that with this type of discipline, I would not be a procrastinator . . . then what was I doing checking the blog and reading your post, in the middle of writing?! Can I call it multitasking, instead? Hmmmm . . .

    Thanks for a humorous post!

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  2. Multitasking! Yes! Oh, maybe we can start a trend of multitasking procrastinators . Thanks for posting, Kate--and for previewing, LOL. I don't have any issues getting things done quickly when it's work related. Now I just have to shift that mind set to the writing. Glad to see you here. :)

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  3. Anna - you're hilarious. I believe we're all guilty of procrastination of one degree or another. Writing gets so intense and is always hard. When you finally meet your deadline and have a few weeks of freedom, it can develop into a month, or maybe two. When the words aren't coming, I try to relax. I've said this over and over (and often forget to take my own advice) but your creativity and story-telling skills got you here, so TRUST THEM to keep you going. Keep going when it sounds like junk, keep going when the progress seems glacial, keep going. 9 times out of ten, when you read it over, it's not so bad, and sometimes even has something that can push you forward. Oooh! Art forgery! That's a must have for me.

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    1. Hi Muriel! Glad you liked the post. :) And yes, I'm SO looking forward to meeting that first deadline so I can go on my vacation in September, come back and write book 3. And after yesterday's round of writing, definitely embracing that "sounds like junk" thought ...junk I can fix! Thanks for stopping by! See you in San Antonio. :)

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    2. Muriel,
      Boy, oh, boy, are you right. I have found the trick is to write and write even when you think it's horrid, sometimes, on editing, there are real treasures. My problem is that the dust can rise to inches thick before I get to it. I'm still working a full time job and as of today, I"m starting my fourth Heartwarming novel. For me, the ONLY thing that keeps me sane is writing. Without the writing I'd be in a looney bin!

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  4. Anna, LOL! I have always claimed that I'm not a fast writer because I have to contemplate the sun, the moon and stars and their positions in the sky before I can write. I love to dream up stories. I love to research careers, people, settings. I love to browse those lovely coffee table books, and tour books for "inspiration". I love having written, but putting butt in chair to wrest out every needed word--it's hard.

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    1. You all are making me feel so much better! Yay! I'm not a freak, LOL. oooh, coffee table books...on art! I think I sense a new trip to the bookstore Thanks for posting. :)

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  5. Great post and so true:) For me, I find I procrastinate the worst when I have 'free' time-nothing is due immediately. I work so much better when I have no choice lol.

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    1. I'm hoping that's true for me, Jennifer. The no choice thing is a definite motivator. Sounds strange to hear "I have too much time to write" but it really messes with our heads, right? Thanks for coming by today. :)

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  6. Anna, I laughed through your entire post! Thank you for making my morning. Yesterday I was so excited to have an entire uninterrupted afternoon to spend writing....during that time I decided to clean out my closet, make a BLT (yum) and call my sister.

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    1. Awww, glad you found it amusing, Carol. When I wrote it I wasn't sure how it could come across, but apparently it struck a chord . And yay! I'm not the only one!! I've done the closet thing too. My house never looks better than when I'm under deadline. Thanks for posting!

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  7. I have a book due the 30th and we leave for vacation the 27th. Yesterday I did seven loads of laundry (every sheet in the house and all the blankets too), started cleaning Mike's play room, took the living room throw rug outside and beat it, and cleaned his bathroom.
    None of those things HAD to be done.

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    1. Isn't that the truth, Pamela? All those things that pile up and don't have to get done never seem more important than when deadline approaches. :) Have a great time on vacation! and good luck finishing the book--you're almost there! :)

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  8. You're not alone at all, Anna! Not a writer, but I know I will even *gasp!* clean when avoiding starting something... You can do this--sometimes it's easier if you set yourself a timer and just say, "I'm going to do this for 20 minutes..." It can help it feel not so huge :) (I'm more of an editor, so I usually do the, "I'm just going to do 20 pages..." and it can be enough to get the ball rolling :) Go, you, Anna! And huge congrats on the multiple contracts! Woohoooo!

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    1. Hey, Fedora! Great to see you here! a timer. what a great idea...I'll have to dig one up--can't use my phone tho because then I"ll be checking email and FB and Twitter...eesh. I need to start a support group. Want in? :) and thanks for the good wishes! Happy weekend.

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  9. LOL- Anna we've both considered ourselves 'Dory'! It is a challenge- especially when starting a story- not to procrastinate. Now that I'm writing my fifth book for Heartwarming, I feel- at last- less nervous about making my deadline... but it's taken me this long! Of course throwing in YA projects into the mix doesn't help either- haha- but like you said, it's a joy and that is IT :)

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    1. Dory is my idol--she even gets a sequel soon, LOL. I love doing the research, can sit for hours on the Internet and reading reference books...it's just that pesky writing part that gets worrisome. I'll hope I have your luck as I get further into this...by book 5 I should lose the insanity portion, right? :)))

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    2. LOL, Muriel. Good to know--now I can prepare.

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    1. It was shiny, wasn't it, Mel? :)

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    2. Loved this, Mel!!!

      If I succumb to two cute dogs holding Frisbees in their mouths and looking at me with those big, pleading puppy-dog eyes, does that count as procrastination or am I just a mush where our dogs are concerned?

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  11. Well, I'm not really a procrastinator. I'd much rather get the job done so I can reward myself with something fun when it's over. That said, I have been known to find even the stupidest things on FB more interesting that writing my next chapter. But hey, my butt's in the chair.

    Stephen King must have made that statement before social media hit the scene.

    Great post, Anna.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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  12. Hey, Patricia! Yeah--considering Mr. King JUST joined Twitter a few months ago, I'd say he definitely said that a while back . Rewarding is a great motivator...but FB is definitely a time suck. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. Hmmm . . . he joined a couple of months ago, has tweeted 236 times and has 436K followers?

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  13. I can so relate to this column, Anna -- well, except the part about actually having a writing contract! I can't figure out, either, why it's so hard to actually sit down and get started. Of course, I thought I'd have tons of time once I retired, but there are so many worthwhile things down here to spend time on ... aaack! More excuses! So now I really do need to get back to -- look, a squirrel!!

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    1. Hey, Sandy!! Great to see you here. ;) Seems the more time we have, the harder it is to actually get to the writing, right? But you're right...squirrel! Even today, I organized boxes that could have waited. Physician, heal thyself. Thanks for posting!

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  14. I loved this, and I've taken the time to read every one of the comments, too. I have finished first-round edits, so I'm entitled, right?

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  15. I find the best cure for procrastination is a legally binding writing contract! It sure reminds me to rein in the mind wandering! :)

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  16. I procrastinate on Facebook. It's so much fun. But as a famous mystery writer once said, "Only writing is writing" so I'm going to do that now.
    Cynthia

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  17. Great post, Anna, and I know exactly what you mean. I have to remind myself that I have actually done this before when I get to the point where I'm frozen and ready for anything else to do. Twitter is my first choice, but I know that things have gotten really bad when I think longingly of mowing the grass. Then it's time to just get a grip! :)

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