The Art of Procrastination

Posted Jun 23 2017, 7:43 am in ,

Writing is hard work. And it takes atodo lot of focus, a lot of time in the chair with your fingers on the keyboard, and a lot of time. So much time, in fact, that you may find yourself looking up from your manuscript, bleary eyed, to realize that your home has been overrun by ravening wolves.

It’s difficult to find the time to take a break while you’re in the midst of a writing fugue, but regular breaks to do bits and pieces of housework or to exercise are a very good idea, to help keep you sharp. That’s not the point of today’s blog, however. Today, the topic is how to successfully make all that “stuff” that you should be doing but aren’t doing work alongside your writing production schedule.

The problem: There’s always more to do, but you really should write…

As a full time author, you know that writing the book is not even half the battle. The rest of being an author involves things like maintaining an online presence, marketing an upcoming book, promoting a current or past release, dealing with elements of book production (if you’re Indie) or your publisher’s editorial/marketing/publicity folks (if you’re traditionally-pubbed)… the list goes on.

But the most important piece of all of that is… writing the next book. Publishing today (and perhaps it has always been) is a content game. If you don’t have new content – new books, new novellas, new short stories, new something – it becomes more and more difficult to build your reader base. So you’re constantly having to produce… which means you’re constantly letting other things slip. This can become an almost overwhelming pressure, until you realize the built-in power of planned procrastination.

The solution: Your “Free Pass” Procrastination List

Let’s face it, we’re not machines. There are going to be time that no matter how well-intentioned you are, writing the next scene in your WIP makes you break out in a cold sweat… or want to take a nap. The trick is recognizing early on when the words just aren’t going to come, and making a decision. Do you tough it out or take a break?

IF you take a break, then it’s a question of how much of a break.

If it’s only 10-20 minutes, then you need to do something physical: work out, take a walk, change out the laundry, clean a room… something. Get moving!

If it’s a break of 30-60 minutes, then after a quick dash up and down the stairs to clean the fog out of your mind (or move in some way, even if it’s a short walk or jogging in place), then you turn to your Free Pass List. Your Free Pass List is all-the-things you need to do, but you haven’t taken the time for because you were writing.

A recent free Pass List for me included: update website, update Facebook/Twitter, finish updating revised print version of book and upload to CreateSpace, write a blog for Postscript, read marketing book, create graphic memes…. the list went on. These were all good things, things I needed to do, but that I’d blown off in order to write. Faced with a situation where I felt I couldn’t write, then I had one other choice (and only one): I could do something from my Free Pass list. 

By giving myself two choices: Write or complete a Free Pass task, I keep my focus on my career no matter what I’m working on. YES, the writing must come first most days, but when I need to take a break, by using the Free Pass List, I know that I’ll stay on track (and feel virtuous doing so!)

Consider creating your own Free Pass Procrastination List for the next time YOU need a break from your WIP!

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