Procrastination is something all people are susceptible to. Most of us would agree that this vile habit is the work of the devil. Writers are VERY vulnerable to procrastination. Most people who write do so all alone in the privacy of their own homes. We writers are accountable only to ourselves. Also, most of us are Peter Pan’s at heart, and never really completely grew up. One way writers fall into the procrastination trap is by surfing the net for research purposes. Researching on the internet is a fast and often essential way to gather knowledge on a specific writing topic. The traps lie in the many links to similar topics you find on various websites. I’ve often clicked on one or two of said links, telling myself it’s a related topic that could prove interesting. Then, two hours later I realize I need to pick up the kids at school. I find I’ve lost time AND gotten sidetracked from my research topic. Another trap that sucks away valuable writing time is reading. All writers should read, especially books in the genre they write in. But if you are a voracious reader like I am, putting down said book can sometimes be next to impossible. You get so drawn into the story you tell yourself you’ll read just a few more minutes. Then moments later your spouse is telling you he can’t keep his eyes open any longer and kissing you goodnight. Oops those few minutes became hours. Double oops, none of it was spent writing. So how can procrastinating ever be good for a writer.
I know it seems impossible that the big P word could ever be a good thing. But as writers we pour our hearts into our work and then send it out into the world to be criticized by others, whether its by a critique group or an agent/editor. That takes guts. Often we’ve spent hours alone laughing or crying, maybe both, over our latest epic work. We are jubilant and not a little relieved by the time it is time to actually start showing it to others. We feel like those first brave flowers of spring that have ventured out past the cold, frozen earth toward the sunshine.
Then we get that chapter or short story back that we felt really, really good about. The pages or word document are bleeding red ink everywhere. The people you used to think were friends are suddenly telling you that they were confused, there were too many information dumps, or they just couldn’t identify with the character. Some might even have suggested that you take the skeleton of the chapter/short story that is left and START FROM SCRATCH. Your mind goes numb. People are still talking but you can’t hear them anymore. The spring flower you were when you were going to your critique group meeting or opening that email attachment, you remember that brave happy flower waving in the sunshine, is suddenly dying in a FREAK BLIZZARD!
This is where procrastination can actually be your best friend. Instead of taking those pages and setting fire to them in your trash can, and risk burning your house down, take a step back from them instead. Take a walk, sign up for that zumba class you’ve been meaning to take, or maybe do some boxing on Wii Fit. Just move around and get those positive endorphins pumping again. Eat some blueberries or a fruit or vegetable that is red, blue, or purple. Those are the fruit or vegetable colors that are often loaded with brain food. At least that’s what my healthy food chart that is broken down by color, tells me. Then sit down and write something new. It doesn’t have to be planned out or anything you ever show to anyone. Just write something that entertains you. Then reward yourself a lot. Break out the ice cream or chocolate and lose yourself in that book, or have fun watching your favorite TV show or movie. Whatever your guilty pleasure is indulge it and glory in the procrastination.