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Procrastinator Support Group

TeamHi, my name is Kim and I’m a procrastinator. Not only am I a procrastinator but I am a wizard level procrastinator.

The basic definition of procrastination is the practice of delaying or postponing the completion of a task. Advanced procrastinators don’t simply delay a task they often replace it with a less important activity. This less important activity is usually something that really doesn’t need to be done, and certainly not in the time frame of this very important task that clearly has a deadline.

When I was in college I am pretty sure that I had the cleanest closet during finals week at my university.  Every semester like clockwork classes would wind down and I’d find myself organizing my closet.  Of course, I always had a good reason. At the end of the fall semester, I told myself that with the holidays coming I needed to get it taken care of.  Where would I hide gifts? At the end of the spring semester, I justified it by reasoning that I needed to be able to find my sandals or other summer gear.

It’s a problem with perfection, and it’s not that we, as procrastinators, think we are perfect or that we do things perfectly. It’s that we have illusions of grandeur. We can imagine perfection, and it looks really good. The only problem with perfection is that it’s well, perfect.  Even if we ignore the idea that different people are going to have varying ideas of what is perfect, we are setting the bar exceptionally high.

As my father, all around smart guy and my junior year Honors English teacher, would tell me, “It’s hard to be perfect and on time.” At the time I just thought he was talking about me, but since then I have found that this is a universal truth for procrastinators. You start with a task that needs to be done and then you come up with this great idea and you are really psyched about it.  It’s going to be amazing, and groovy and maybe even blue and…wait.  What now? There’s a deadline. Perfection and punctuality, fantastic, two of my favorite things, really.  Awesome. Ok.

At some point, it turns into perfect or punctual, one or the other but not both. How do we choose? Perfection is fairly subjective, you ask a random sample of people a single question and you are going to get different answers.  I think Chris Hemsworth is pretty close to perfect but I know a few people who are not impressed at all. Punctuality, however is definite, Thursday at noon means the same thing to everyone.  (Yes, I know there are different time zones that could cause confusion but we all knew what I meant.) Clearly, the deadline is going to win over a fleeting chance at perfection.

The deadline is the deal breaker but as a procrastinator we are then obligated to justify the lack of perfection. How can we be perfect when we have had such a busy day?  And, yeah, sometimes we invent things that have to be done right now. It’s avoidance at its best, perfection takes time so we allow ourselves to be distracted by various shiny alternatives. When we triumphantly meet our deadline we can point to all of the distractions and pat ourselves on the back for doing so well in such a short amount of time.

Here’s my shiny example, while writing this post I got an email letting me know that I had earned a $15 rewards certificate to a national shoe store chain. I stopped writing to go look at shoes.  Do I need shoes right now? Nope. It is summer and I have a plethora of sandal options to choose from.  All I thought was, “Wow, $15!” and I sprinted off to see if there was anything that I absolutely needed.  Did I find anything that I needed right now? Nope…although I did find a darling pair of slouchy pull on boots that are on clearance, the avoidance thing, it’s not always bad.

Is there a cure for procrastination? If you climb a mountain in Borneo and talk to the wise man…yeah. No, there is no cure. You can only treat the symptoms.  Like perfection, treatment options vary among the procrastinator population. When it comes to writing, schedules work for some people, block out the same time every day to write.  Setting a timer is another favorite, set it for an hour and keep writing until you hear the ding. The best treatment, in my humble opinion is to drop the idea of perfect in favor of ideas like fun, inspired, heartwarming or relatable.

 

This post originally appeared at the RWA Chapter of Contemporary Romance Writers Blog.

 

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Workspace Woes

In the last few months I have suffered from a bit of indirect procrastination. I say indirect because for the most part, the reason that I haven”t been writing recently is simple … I’ve been busy. There are a gazillion and one things that need to be done around here, and after years of being “on call” for various family members* I’m bound and determined to get them done.

One thing that has been a more direct form of procrastination is a form of ‘advanced workspace rearrangement’. This idea is from the cartoon that I featured in my ‘Oh Hey’ post from June 3rd. My version of workspace rearrangement is more an issue of workplace annoyance and frustration. My desk is always cluttered and it drives me batty.  It’s doubly upsetting because I love my desk, I actually built it so that it would fit all of my personal specifications. I built the upper shelves to hold paperback books and some of the fun stuff I’ve collected over the years.

Kim Desk1

My nifty desk

The real problem with my workspace is that my desk is not only used for writing. My desk is the main location for all household paperwork, bill paying and unfortunately, the unofficial lost and found location for an untold assortment of items. So, at any point during the day or week my desk can be completely neat or fairly cluttered. It’s like the furniture version of Schrodinger’s cat, at all times my desk can be thought of as both neat and cluttered.

I can be terribly frustrating when I’d like to sit down and write, instead I end up fighting the stack of mail or the two beach towels, not to mention the two cats that have decided that they really need to take a nap right now on my desk. Nothing like trying to use the mouse while a cat is laying across your arm. More often than not I end up using the scant amount of time that I have straightening up my desk instead of writing.

Cat desk1

Scotty getting some cuddles in while I work.

Sometimes I take my laptop to other places in the house to write but that has it’s own set of issues. I have asecond monitor on my desk as well as an area near my desk for my story boarding, I have clipboards, dry erase and cork boards that I use to collect extra notes like floorplans, family trees, jot quick notes and pin up inspiration pictures.

Writing area

This pic is a bit blurry but you get the general idea.

I’d love to have a nice place to write that was just for writing. Lately I’ve seen some rather nifty desk ideas for small spaces like closets and shelving units.

Closet desk - Remodelaholic

Closet desk – Remodelaholic

walldesk4

Hanging wall desk – Bush Furniture

Walldesk5

Wall desk – Junior Living

These are all pretty cool, of course, I don’t have a spare closet or even an empty bit of wall to hang a groovy wall desk. I guess, I’ll just have to make do with what I have for now. At the same time, I will keep thinking of better ways to use the space that I have. My immediate solution is adding a basket at the end of my desk, anything that’s in the way will go into the basket and I can take care of it the next morning. Writing needs to be my priority and I need to stop worrying about trivial things that are just wasting my time.

*In the past ten years we’ve had way too many family members with serious medical issues. We are very close to both sides of our family and will always drop anything to do what we can to help. 

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Planning stages…

For the last two weeks, the cushions for the couch have been leaning against a bookcase in the Great Room.  Boo is super excited about decorating for Halloween but the house needs to be straightened up a lot more before that’s going to happen.  The cushions being the biggest issue.  I had been saying I was in the planning stages but no one was going to buy that at this point.  I was stuck and  I admit it, I was procrastinating.  The cushion covers I made before were easy, two square panels and some velcro and I was done.  

 

They looked like these floor pillows.

This time I was dealing with foam that was 4″ thick along with the batting wrapped around it.  We’re talking side panels now.

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My cushions will look like these.  Almost exactly like these, I decided not to do piping around the cushion edges.  I didn’t think it would look all that good with the denim or with the style of our couch.  And honestly, I had no desire to muck around with sewing the piping.  How’s that for a straight answer?

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I found a great tutorial on eHow online that explained how to put the cushion together.  The instruction by Karen Weisman was very helpful.  Check it out here.  I think I am prepared to actually start on the cushions.

Earlier tonight I got my sewing machine out and did some quick mending.  After that I cut out a few of the pieces I will need for the cushions.  I wanted at least one full set so I could  sew it together and make sure it worked.  

Cross your fingers, I’ll check in tomorrow with an update.

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Unorganized chaos…

For the last month, I have been trying to figure out how to deal with stuff that has accumulated in our laundry room.  It didn’t happen overnight, it started slow and then just kept piling up.  Some of it got left there and then lost underneath the other stuff.  Most of it came out of the craft room when I straightened my table and the area around Boo’s desk.  

I’ve procrastinated about dealing with it because not only do I need to tackle the pile but I also need to move my sewing stuff out of the rolling shelf in between the washer and dryer.  Moving that stuff means moving a bunch of stuff in the craft room.  As much as I want everything straightened up, the thought of making a mess in two different rooms makes me want to go running, screaming into the night.  

I pondered dealing with it for several weeks and then I began to work out in my head how to get it done with a minimal amount of mess.  Last night while we were watching TV I started sorting the laundry room.  I have containers on a shelf above the washer and dryer.  I brought those in one by one and sorted through them, cleared one out and packed it with something else.  After the shelf was straightened I sorted through the pile on the dryer.  Half of the pile got thrown into the hamper, towels that had apparently been pulled out of the washer and never thrown in the dryer.  It’s Arizona, it’s hot and once they dried they just became part of the pile.  The rest of it I sorted in piles to deal with later.  Then I pulled out the rolly shelf between the washer and dryer.  Luckily I had sorted the sorting stuff into small stackable containers.  I set those on the dryer and then put the iron and all of the other ironing accessories in the rolly cart.  

This morning, I pulled all of the boxes and other stuff out from under my table in the craft room.  I had a plan to put my sewing machine under the wire shelf attached to the legs of the table but the sewing didn’t quite fit, it slid under perfectly until it hit the bobbin feed.  So annoying.  Twenty minutes, a bit of swearing and two aborted plans later I got everything set up under my desk.  I really need to cover the wire shelf with foam core or cardboard to make everything sit well but it all fit perfectly.  I am really pleased that my sewing stuff is now officially in the craft room.  Yay!

Of course, I still have to deal with the stuff stacked up in the hallway and the piles sorted onto the sewing table and the couch.  

Also this morning, I printed up labels for the containers and baskets in the laundry room.  I will have to make a another post about labeling, it’s addictive.   Regardless of my addiction, Sully and Boo will now know where things are and where they need to go.  Another yay for me!

I wish I had an entire room like this. My laundry area is basically a closet with bi-fold doors.

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Facing the Fear…

Today, I was discussing writing in an email and I wrote this…

I think I am subconsciously telling myself that if I don’t try, then I won’t fail.  Of course the flip side is the whole, if you don’t try, you won’t succeed thing too but my subconscious isn’t listening to any of that.  I told my husband that I am scared to death that I am going to find out that my writing blows.  After all of this work and wanting to do this since I was a kid that thought is terrifying.  So, it’s easier to let it sit.    

All of it is true, and that’s why I am talking about it.  I am so terrified that my writing sucks goats that I would rather not write at all.  Everyday I think about writing.  Everyday I tell myself to write.  Everyday I get mad because I didn’t write the day before.  Everyday.  

If I haven’t been writing then I have weird dreams that make no sense.  After a bit I realize it’s not even me in the dream, they’re characters in a story that I should be writing.  My subconscious brain is giving me a push, and I need to listen.

Earlier this week, author Kevin Hearne posted the following on Facebook.  

Kevin Hearne
Tuesday
Wahoo! Got 2K words finished today and it feels good to get back into the groove. I am currently at the stage where I love my story. Later I’ll be convinced it’s utter rubbish because that’s the nature of a writer’s neurosis, but right now life is good and I’m gonna play with the doggies a bit.
It’s clear that my fear is a common issue for writers, it’s also clear that some of us must be working through it.  After all books are being written, edited and published all the time.
I talked to Sully earlier this year telling him about my fears.  Right away he told me that I was not a bad writer.  My first reaction was that he loves me and of course he is going to say that.  As we talked though, I started to say positive things. 
— Ok, so maybe this story is awful but I can figure out what’s wrong and fix it.  Then when I write the next story it will be a little better.  Just like anything else the more that you do something the better you will be.   I can hear my dad’s voice in my head at this point.  ‘You’re making this harder than it needs to be.  Don’t think about it just sit down and write.’   He’s right, overthinking it won’t help. I need to write what comes to me and deal with any issues in editing and rewrites.  
Warning: Sports analogy – you aren’t going to the Super Bowl, World Series, NBA championships or the Olympics after your first game or match.  You have to step onto the field, court or arena over and over again.  Why should it be any different for me?
Now I need to work on getting the logical voice to silence the neurotic one long enough to get something done. Practice makes perfect, right?  Or at least better than when you started.

June+1My June +1 for today is using free weights to do arm exercises.  I am hoping to do them Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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Best laid plans…

I woke up this morning with an awful allergy headache.  I took ibuprofen and allergy medicine as soon as I got up but it still took several hours to get rid of the headache completely.  I had great plans to get a lot done today but moving around really wasn’t an option.

So faced with the fact that reorganizing the garage was not going to happen I decided to turn towards my writing.  My work-in-progress is my NaNo project from November 2010, titled ‘Above the Water’.  I finished the rough draft and got a proof copy and now it’s time for rewrites, actually past time for rewrites.  

Camp NaNo started on Friday and I am having a slow start.   I wrote ‘Above the Water’ using the program called yWriter.  I like that program and how it separates things into chapters and scenes but it’s missing some features that I would like to utilize.  I looked at Liquid Story Binder and I really like how it looks.  I downloaded it in January, it’s very complicated and not really all that conducive for learning as you go.  I even toyed with Scrivener back in February and I like that it is similar to yWriter in it’s simplicity but I was having a hard time with the actual writing within Scrivener.  This dilemma over writing programs helped me to continue procrastinating.  There was also the problem with moving files around on my computer, some of which are still missing.  So, anyway, here we are at the beginning of June and I am no closer to editing my WIP.  

Friday night, I finally opened a new project in Liquid Story Binder and transferred the first chapter from yWriter.  The chapter needs to be rewritten, it starts out too slow, there’s too much information being dumped.  I need to go back and get the story moving from the beginning.  The backstory info needs to be spaced out over time, we don’t need to know absolutely everything in the first chapter.


I worked on the first chapter on Saturday night, rewriting the opening scene but I was not happy with it at all.  My immediate thought is a quote from the first Spiderman movie, I need to take the whole thing “back to formula.”  I’ve decided that I need to sit down and read chapter one all the way through.  Then go back and make changes.  In fact, I think I will print the pages out and actually go through it and make corrections and notes on the page.  It’s the way Stephen King does it, and I am thinking he might know what he’s talking about.  Ha!

June+1

My June +1 for today is that I drank 2 – 24oz tumblers of water.  
At least the day wasn’t a total loss.  🙂

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Porch decor…

Nothing like a little procrastination or it is good things come to those that wait…

Last Spring, I bought this wall art piece.  It was on sale, I had a coupon and I love butterflies.  It was missing a butterfly in the middle and I figured I would fill the space with something.  I just wasn’t sure what.  I hung it on our covered front porch and I like how the sunlight reflects off of the copper.

It’s been a year and I still haven’t filled the space.  Every time Lily comes over she says, “still nothing?”  And I usually say, “Ugh, I know, I just haven’t seen anything that seems like the thing to add.”   I’ve thought about tracing the shape of the butterflies and making a new one out of bright colored paper, or getting one of those butterflies that they use in floral arrangements.

Last week, though we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch with Sully’s mom.  She’s really trying to keep herself moving along, which I think is commendable and a healthy way to go.  After lunch we went into the ‘Old Country Store’ to look around.  I found a really pretty butterfly wind chime and a pretty butterfly plant decoration.

The wind chime looks perfect on the front porch and I had planned on adding the butterfly planter decoration to the butterfly decorations in the master bathroom. It’s our spring time theme, I only have a few more weeks to enjoy it.

This morning I had the butterfly in my hand and was looking around to see where to put it.   We’ve had the butterfly theme in the master bathroom for several years, last year was the first year that we attempted changing the bathroom decor to go with the seasons.  As I looked at the master bath, I was suddenly struck with a fantastic idea.   The idea hit me so suddenly I ran out to the front porch.  I must have startled Sully because he showed up soon after.

The butterfly from the Cracker Barrel hooked right on to the wire that was left at the empty space.  I did a little fine tuning but it really looked good from the beginning, with minimal help from me.

While I was out on the porch I hung up these pieces that I got, on sale, with a coupon and then left leaning by the front door for two months.  They are hanging on the opposite wall of the front porch.  My mother was part Native American, she would have liked these although Kokopelli was her favorite.  I like the designs, Butterfly, Eagle and Thunderbird, and whose house doesn’t need some extra happiness, freedom and everlasting life?