How to Deal with Procrastination Even If You Don't Want To

By: | June 27, 2015 | Tags: , ,

#Writers ProcrastinateDo you ever procrastinate?

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.

Links:

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.

  1. Pam Newberry | at 2:26 am

    Thank you, Janice for offering me the opportunity to be a guest blogger on your blog, Reflections. You have inspired me in so many ways. Your posts are spot on. It was great fun!

    • Janice Wald | at 6:46 am

      Hi Pam,
      Thank you for being our guest author. You had an interesting article. I love how it’s open to interpretation on several levels. I’m glad you enjoyed the experience. Thank you for reblogging it, so your followers can read it.
      Janice

  2. Pingback: Procrastination - Reblogged Post - Pam B. Newberry
  3. Gloria Frye | at 6:02 am

    Procrastination, I to suffer from this. For one this word is a powerful just looking at it. It represents that I need to move forward to accomplish a task or to face something I love to do but I am frighten to do.
    For myself I feel I will not “do” the task correctly then I feel I have failed.
    Failure consists of many aspects of my life. It is a feeling I knew early on in my young life. As an adult I have to sit myself down and “have a chat”. This may take a few minutes, few hours, or days.
    For myself I feel procrastination is “I need to clear my mind” and focus on one “task” at a time.
    Easier said then done.
    Glo

    • Pam Newberry | at 6:27 am

      Oh, you are so right, Glo! Procrastination can indeed gain control if we let it. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Sending good vibes to you that we, together, keep it where it belongs…Cheers, Pam

    • Janice Wald | at 3:25 pm

      Hi Glo!
      I wrote you earlier and thanked you for your comments. I hope you saw my appreciation. This time I am writing to thank you so much for following my blog! How exciting. I think it’s great we are all in the same community. So many emotions. I am excited, flattered, touched. It’s been amazing meeting you today. Welcome!
      Janice

  4. Janice Wald | at 6:33 am

    Dear Glo,
    Hi,
    I’m Janice. Thank you so much for writing. It is nice to meet you.
    Until I read Pam’s article, I would have been inclined to agree with you that procrastination is a bad thing. It certainly has a bad connotation.
    If I am interpreting Pam’s post correctly, I felt like she was saying that procrastination is not bad if there is no urgency involved in what you are procrastinating about.
    In her case, writing this guest post did not involve urgency, as she explained. Next, in the interim, the in-between time as she calls it, she was productive. She got laundry done, etc.
    Anyway, that’s what I came away with from reading her article–a positive spin on procrastination. That’s why I titled the piece what I did.
    Thanks for reading the guest post and reaching out to us.
    Janice

  5. The Chaos Realm | at 7:17 am

    Having ADHD, I procrastinate a lot by doing more active, engaging tasks. Even if it’s not very exciting. “Oh, look, that shelf is really dusty.”Wow, it’s a perfect time to do laundry that I haven’t felt like doing for three weeks” *laugh* So, especially in grad school, I developed two systems to overcome ADHD-type procrastination. I “bait the hook”–say I have a sixty-page paper to write, so I play a game with a limited time frame–even something silly like YoVille on Facebook, or any other free game with a limited amount of money or energy, so I’m not playing it for hours. That helps me make the transition to writing the paper. I also utilize the reward system, which is actually really effective. “If I’m done by eight, I can watch the latest episode of NCIS.” Or anything else that you can look forward to after the task. Also, a lot of times I find that a more effective time management program to follow my inner promptings instead of resisting myself, honestly, rather than wasting a whole day unable to focus and settle down and ending up wandering the halls restlessly, having learned confidence that I will get it done, if I know the time frame/deadline. Some days you just need to go out and run errands, or do something else productive that’s more interactive or different than the task at hand or take care of things that are really preoccupying your mind–helps me to burn off energy and clear my mind–making me more productive when I can finally settle down to the task I need to work on. At least that’s how it works for this ADHD person. 🙂

    • Janice Wald | at 3:13 pm

      Hi Chaos Realm,
      1. Thank you for sharing this with us. We all get to know each other better through blog comments =).
      2. I think your “reward system” is great. I actually do something similar when I grade essays which seems to get more arduous through the years. All I want to do is blog which is what I do when I procrastinate and don’t grade as I should. I grade five papers, then I reward myself and spend time on the blog, five more papers, etc.
      3. You said it’s good to know the deadline. I also work best under pressure.
      4. Like Pam, you are productive while you are procrastinating.
      5. I don’t know about Pam, but I don’t have ADHD, and I can still relate to what you’ve shared that works. These are good ideas for anyone dealing with procrastination.
      Thank you!
      Janice

  6. Pam Newberry | at 7:27 am

    Thanks, The Chaos Realm for sharing such important insights into how you deal with the ADHD and procrastination world.

    You said it well with, “…Some days you just need to go out and run errands, or do something else productive that’s more interactive or different than the task at hand…” Yes, this is so very true!

    Sometimes, just allowing procrastination to work through itself allows me to move forward, too. Many times, I feel that procrastination is my mind telling my body and heart to stop and smell the roses.
    Thanks for reading my post and making a comment!
    Cheers, Pam

  7. amd4u2 | at 3:43 pm

    Id like to comment now but I would prefer to do it later , I could do it now but I would probably do it better later, I like to think about my comments first , although I some times think about them a lot more later, when i’m not so busy. I always like to do most things after giving myself the room to move in my thoughts.
    Where am I again?
    Oh yes, I always say “never put off today what can be given to some one else tomorrow.” My favourite motto of all time is
    something I will tell you about later. I Enjoyed the stroll down memory lane.

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