According to Psychology Today, 20% of all people suffer from chronic procrastination.
Much is written about Writer’s Block, and how writers can attempt to deal with it. However, not much has been written about procrastination.
This is the reason guest author Pam Newberry’s article is so interesting. She personalizes procrastination as she discusses this barrier to her writing, yet we can all take a page from her book as she describes her attempts to cope with a struggle many of us have faced–how to stop procrastinating.
Between Times is Where I Need to be Right Now
By Pam B. Newberry
I had been thinking for days on what to write since Janice asked me to consider writing a guest post for her blog, Reflections, a few weeks ago.
It was a thrilling moment to receive such a request. As a young Indie author (I published my first book, a memoir, in January 2014), I’d considered blogging about time management. But, as a newbie, I doubted my ability to offer something of value to Janice and her blog followers. I procrastinated.
Today, I read an article in The New York Times by author Ann Packer, Between Books. Her article struck a chord with me. Since January 2014, I have published two novels. Currently, I am in the between stage of beginning book three of The Marine Letsco Trilogy. I’m struggling, maybe I should say fighting, the same procrastination Packer mentions. And, I can relate on many levels to her comment: “This is not an easy moment.” It isn’t.
In order to be able to write a stellar ending to my debut book collection, I know I need to begin the plotting process. Yet, in my heart and soul, I’m not in the moment. The muse is out on vacation. It is June. Making time for procrastination is addictive. I’m addict at this moment and I find myself struggling with breaking away. No different than the struggles I have observed while watching Sherlock Holmes fight his demons as portrayed by Jonny Lee Miller on CBS’s Elementary.
Procrastination easily becomes a drug for me. In a quirky sort of way, writing is a drug to me, too. I must get my fix. Because of this, I find that when I’m in the writing zone—when I’m at my most productive—all other things are put on hold. This is dangerous. In addition to developing a career in fiction writing, I am also a freelance writer. Currently, my freelance work feeds my writing habit—at least for now. There is hope that one day my fiction writing will be strong and vibrant enough that it will feed me. But, for now, it is not the case.
Like needing a writing fix, I find procrastination can take on an addictive role, if I let it. It’s like eating chocolate—you can’t take a single bite. Oh, I manage to create reasons why I should procrastinate. I’ve even given it a name to help me do it without too much guilt. I call it my between time. I’ve read that giving yourself time to think is important. And it is—if done at the right between times. But, I worry that I might use it as another ploy to ease the pain of my procrastination. I wonder.
Packer’s article talks about the need for authors to print their manuscripts in spite of the fact every draft is safely stored as a computer file. She hit the mark when she said there are stacks and stacks of these manuscripts “…taking up prime real estate on her desk.” Packer was speaking to me. I looked over at my desk, or what is a sea of white paper with red marks. There was not even a place to set my coffee cup. I was holding it in my hand as I read that passage shaking my head in awe at how she knew. We’d never met, yet she knew. She was speaking to me. Am I stacking my desk ever higher so that I’d have another chore to do before I could sit down to write? Is this a ruse I’ve created to avoid moving forward in my quest to write the great novel?
As I finished her article, I took comfort in knowing that it was okay—other authors suffer as I do. I realized a critical moment had come. I had to write my blog post if I was going to be able to honor Janice’s request. Yet, the little writing devil sitting on my right shoulder had the audacity to say, “But she didn’t tell you had to write a blog post. You don’t have to sit there this moment and write. What would you write about anyway?” That little devil works hard at helping me find an excuse.
The writing angel sitting on my left shoulder whispered, “Don’t listen to him. He is trying to cause you to procrastinate. Be strong. You can write a good blog post.”
I smiled at both of them and said, “The Between Time is important to me because I get to catch up on all of the things I have let go.” I thought about my list of things to do—the mopping of floors, washing clothes, changing the bed sheets, fixing dinner, working in my beloved garden that is more weeds than not and so on and so on. The list is longer than I’ve put here. You get the idea.
But, while I work through each of those chores, I plot. I talk with my muse, when she’s around. I think about Marine and what will happen to her next. Where should her life take her? What evil should raise its ugly head and stop her from her goals? What kind of life has she earned by virtue of being my protagonist to be written on my pages? Will I meet her again after this is over? Do I want to?
Being Between is not a bad thing, if you can figure out what it means and where it is.
Packer, A. (May 29, 2015). Between books. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/31/books/review/between-books.html?_r=1
Wikipedia. (May 27, 2015). Elementary TV series. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_(TV_series)
Wald, J. (June 1, 2015). Reflections. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://mycurrentnewsblog.com
A short bio on Pam:
Pam B. Newberry lives in the mountains of Southwest Virginia with her husband where she is at work on the third book of the Marine Letsco Trilogy – A Time for Fire.
The author of The Letter: A Page of My Life and The Fire Within, and Pam’s recently released second novel, The Fire of Revenge. She enjoys raising honeybees, gardening, fly fishing, and other fun in the sun activities.
You can connect with Pam through her website: http://pambnewberry.com and follow her on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPamNewberry and Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/newberry0073/.
Pam, thank you so much for guest posting for us today. Pam took a common situation, procrastination, and offered a novel approach to dealing with it.
Readers, if you think others can benefit from Pam’s ideas about how to overcome procrastination, please share.
How do you deal with procrastination? Pam and I would love to know. We look forward to your views.
We will be responding to comments as our vacation schedules permit.