How many of you have ever done the housework, checked your emails, paid the bills, rearranged your workspace, surfed the ‘net, read a chapter or two of a book, found some obscure task to finish, or just plain wasted time doing “stuff” instead of sitting down and writing?
Come on, hands up, let’s have a little honesty. Hmm, I see a few raised. Including mine.
Self-discipline seems to pack its bags and go on holiday, the drive to make yourself sit down at the keyboard and work has taken a break, too.
Why? Well, a good reason might be that you have “time on your hands” (perhaps it’s vacation time or personal leave from work). Maybe you’re between books and not actively working or revising one at the moment.
Could it be you’ve temporarily burnt yourself out?
Or is your mind subconsciously sorting the jigsaw pieces of your next WIP into order before your muse kicks and demands to be at the keyboard?
If it’s reason one or two - and it’s worrying you then get back into your usual routine as if you were still at your other job. You need to be able to identify what writing process works for you and stick to it.
Set yourself a “work time”, do it then enjoy the rest of the day as your holiday or break away from writing. Or vice versa if you work better in the afternoon/evening. Alternatively, if you’re on a roll then keep working past that set time. But don’t feel guilty over not working ALL day on writing - wastes too much energy and it’s counterproductive.
If it’s reason three - (and I’ve been there, done that a few times) you need to divorce yourself from writing entirely and give yourself time to recharge and restore the keen edge of needing to write.
For me, reading tends to do that. Curling up with a good book and enjoying it inspires me and I begin to get ideas, scenes, possibilities churning in the back of my mind. It’s like the boost you take when your body is low on vitamins.
Find out what relaxes you and do it. If you don’t pamper or feed your creative self then how can you expect to recover? When you’re ready to return to writing you’ll know. Start small - planning, plotting, writing for fun not profit. Build yourself up to getting back into your routine and a new WIP.
If it’s reason four (needing headspace and time in between books) - give it to yourself. It’s OK not to be actively writing (a hard thing to do when guilt and pressure is hounding you to get back to it). You don’t have to be pounding out the word count to be working on your next WIP.
I read a great quote by Eugene Ionesco on the RWAustralia blog site the other day. He said, “For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”
Sometimes the mind just needs time to think, plan, analyse, organise, plot, interview & sequence whatever you’re working on. Ever had that “feeling” of wrongness about your WIP and it stops you from starting or progressing in your writing? Perhaps you feel icky about the overarching plot, or maybe your characters motivations aren’t defined, or a scene you’ve been thinking about is in the wrong POV?
Your subconsciousness is prodding you to take noticed (sometimes it just hits you over the hit with a 2 by 4 at 3am). Listen to it. Learn to let yourself think, daydream, visualise...whatever it takes to make your process work.
Recognising what triggers your procrastination is important. It’ll help you diagnose the treatment you need to administer. Take heed though, one unrefutable fact underpins any “cure”.
Self discipline - the strict mistress of all writers.
The question to ask yourself is - do I have the passion for writing and strength to let her control me?
Procrastination won’t have hold over you for long if she does.