Let’s face it – it’s not just the kids who put off doing their homework. My husband is famous (at least within our family) for the phrase, “If you wait ‘til the last minute, it only takes a minute.”
Procrastination’s power pulls all of us off our virtuous course now and again. When you hear its siren song, sometimes it’s okay to give in. Just a little. But don’t just flip on the tube. Make procrastination work FOR you.
How, you ask? Take something from your to-do list that sounds better than whatever it is that you’re desperate to avoid doing and put your energy into that task. Simple, huh?
As a writer, putting words together makes me come alive. But some days, there’s just no way. No matter how much caffeine, sugar, ritual, or will power – it seems the schedule and all the forces of nature and the cosmos are determined to intervene. This is one of those weeks. The family’s got way too much to do, my brain is pulled in twelve directions, and it’s fogged by the germs my little person so kindly shared. Yet there are things that need doing! Progress must be made!
So I strike a deal with my self: I can slack on the writing, so long as I’m doing something that advances my broader writerly ambitions. Luckily, one of the things I love about being a writer is that there’s an almost infinite number of things one can do to keep step with the drumbeat demands of progress while still giving yourself some slack. Here are ten of my favorites, done as a count-down in true ‘90s style:
10. Set the mood for your work. Create an aesthetic with visual reminders of key elements to your WIP. Make a playlist that captures the tone and gets your creative juices flowing. Find a candle that smells like the setting in your Work In Progress (and then light it each time you sit down to write – it will help bring you to your work, and I’ve heard, it can be helpful for getting you back to that mental space if you’ve got to go back to do some revisions on it after you’ve already switched to another project).
9. Journal. It’s writing but without the pressure. Up to you whether to free write for a set time (see if you can make it at least 10 minutes) or if you want to journal about something in your WIP that’s hanging you up. Q&A with yourself, especially written out long-hand, can be a powerful tool – and you’ve got written proof of your genius ideas later.
(source: Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)
8. Diagram your plot. Whether with a storyboard and several specific steps (a la Save the Cat by Blake Snyder) or rough sketches that look like something you might have made in geometry class (Venn diagram anyone?), look at your story from another angle.
7. Research. Remember when we had to go to libraries, and God forbid, there was microficheinvolved? Now your internet search engine of choice can bring more than you ever imagined to your desk (or couch or bed – no judgment). Good research can make or break a scene, or your story. Remember that scene in the Little Women movie where Jo March is distracted by trying to determine in which hand one carries a rapier? The details are important and at least some of your readers will know them.
6. Hit the library. Because not everything is online. Or you may need to check out books. Maybe audiobooks so you can listen to a book while you’re doing one of the other things presently distracting you from your writing? (Multi-tasking – yay!) While you’re there, check out the titles in your genre. Talk to the librarians about what’s hot in your field, or simply enjoy being in the presence of other book nerds.