Are You a Procrastinator?
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Procrastination – the Writer’s Demon and how to overcome it.
The NZ Romance Writers Association promotes an annual competition, `Finish the damn book!’
A strange name for a writers’ competition, you say?
Why would someone come up with such a title? Unless, maybe, they had recognised a real condition and were putting a name to it in a way only writers could recognise?
As in most other fields, a large percentage of writers have no strong belief in their ability to do the thing they are most drawn to; which is a pity because, when someone
feels drawn to something, it makes a kind of sense to think that it might be what they were put here to do in the first place.
So, what name can we apply to this reluctance to do what we know we should be doing? What we want to do? What we are drawn to do?
Could it be `procrastination?’ It seems to fit the malady quite nicely.
Take the dreaded writers’ condition commonly referred to as `Writers Block.’ As writers we have all been there to one degree or another.
Sometimes we get over it quickly; other times not so. Keep reading – are any of these thoughts familiar?
`I’m not good enough to do this.’
`What on earth made me think I could write something anyone would want to read?’
‘If only I could write like Barbara Erskine/Robert Goddard/Sally Beauman. Against them my writing falls horribly short.’
`I’m hopeless. Nobody’s going to want to read this.’
Recognise the trains of thought? Lucky you if you haven’t; you are one of the fruitful few.
Got the Wobbles?
When wallowing in a fit of the wobbles – quite normal for a creative soul – have you ever thought, “This is just a phase I’m going through.” Or did you think, “I’m drowning here, how am I going to climb out of this pit?” Maybe you said, “That’s it, I’ve been fooling myself. I’m taking up knitting.”
What a pity that would be. The real culprit is actually self-doubt; it usually raises its ugly head when things haven’t been going quite right for whatever reason. It affects everyone at some stage but one of its nastiest facets is the one we call `procrastination.’
Everything has an answer and often a cure. Personally, I am a shocking procrastinator but I have a cure. I love deadlines. Deadlines force me to finish what I start.
You say, “But I don’t always have a deadline.”
I say, “Create one.”
It’s easy enough. Set yourself a date you would like to, and feel you could, finish by. Write it on a piece of paper along with a brief explanation, word count, title of your article/manuscript, your name and address, then date and sign it and seal it in an envelope.
On the front of the envelope, write the deadline date and, below it, a request for the bearer to open the envelope on that date, read it, then phone you at 3p.m. Now, place the envelope into another larger one and address it to someone you trust will support you and be happy to play the part of your editor.
You now have an official deadline.
Diarise the date and time and get writing – there is no time to waste.
Robert Benchley – humourist, drama critic, actor, said:
It took me 15 years to discover I had no talent for writing but I couldn’t give it up because by then I was too famous.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?