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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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The First Step…

The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. So, I guess it’s time to admit that I have a problem, more of an addiction really.  I am going to need to just blurt it out.

I can’t stop buying nifty notebooks, groovy journals and primo pens. Every time I walk into Staples, Office Max, Barnes & Noble or any other store that has similar items, I can’t seem to stop myself from buying one more notebook or journal. I’m becoming a paper hoarder.

I currently have these journals…

Journals

Barnes and Noble

 

And these Moleskine notebooks…Moleskine

I even have small notebooks…

small notebooks

I have stacks of these…I even created my own combination of supplies…  poly folder + legal pad = my very own coolio writing notebook

Writing notebooks

Mead Five Star Advance

I have used these during National Novel Writing Month, and they work great for outlines, descriptions and all of those other random notes. The binder clip works double duty, holding the legal pad securely and as a pen clip.

Writing notebooks 2

 

Oh, and the pens…

Wow pens

 

I’ve been using these Pentel Wow! pens for several years and I love them. They are really dependable, last a long time and I love the different colors.

 

 

 

 

The Pentel EnerGel pens are my new obsession. They glide so nicely on the page and there are a lot of colors, more than what is found in this set.

 

 

 

I have notebooks, journals and pens stashed everywhere. I keep saying that I won’t buy anymore until I use up all of the ones that I have but I think we all know that’s not really an option. My plan is to start using them consistently, fill up a notebook and then move to the next one.  The extremely ornate journals at the top create a dilemma for me, they are so pretty I am hesitant to use them. I guess it’s similar to having the beautiful china that you only use for holidays, they are too nice to use everyday. I’ll have to tackle that one at some point.

It’s time to get back to my NaNo story.  Happy writing!

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Camp NaNo 2015

Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner

Each year on November 1st writers from all points begin the endeavor of writing 50,000 words in 30 days for National Novel Writing Month . The hope is that at the end of the 30 days that participants would have gotten a good jump on their novel and maybe developed a routine for writing daily. I’ve done well with the 50,000 words but not so much with sticking to a routine. December is always a busy month for me and my writing ends up being low on the priority list.

Camp NaNo is a more easy going version of the November festivities. Camp NaNo holds two sessions each year in April and July with participants able to choose their own word-count goals between 10,000 and 1,000,000. I always enjoy the camp themed notes, badges and artwork, it’s a fun distraction from the crazy Arizona heat.

I’ve signed up to write 30,000 words during the July session. Like every year, I am hoping that I’ll be able to get a writing schedule finally set up. A daily word count of 1,000 words is low and pretty attainable at this point. I’d like to set it up so that I am writing at the same time each day.  We’ll see how that goes in the next few days.

Happy Writing!

cabin typewriter

 

 

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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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Listening

I saw this quote on Facebook today and it really made me think.

Live forIt’s an incredible quote and it relates so much to something I was talking about earlier this week that I can’t help but think I need to pay attention to what the universe is trying to say. The conversation was about everyday life, and that I’ve gotten to the point that I feel like I need more goals than getting the laundry done. I feel a bit ridiculous complaining, I have a great home life. Cap is truly my best friend, loving, responsible, supportive, helpful, (I could go on) and the best part?  He makes me laugh.  I am just as blessed with Scarlet, she is smart, caring, a great artist and we have some great conversations. I am completely aware of how lucky I am, hence the guilty stirrings that surface when I get whiny.

Having said all of that, it’s clear that I feel that there is something more for me to do. Anyone who has read a few of my posts knows that I am a writer, or at least, I am attempting to be a writer. Here’s where the quote factors in, what’s holding me back?  What’s keeping me from living fully?  From being that writer that I really dream of being. I was pretty sure that I already had the answers, fear and time.  Those things can be dealt with though.  The questions have been running through my head all night, and I think I’ve finally cornered the problem.  My procrastination with writing is fueled by doubt and disappointment.  In the past, I’ve set deadlines and made plans but outside forces have often interfered, leaving me disappointed and doubtful that I’ll ever actually reach my goals.  I call myself a writer but I treat my writing like a hobby.  Definitely not good.

Clearly, I need to make some changes. This weekend I am going to sit down and look at our schedules and see where I can fit in some designated “office hours”.  It’s time to get serious about this, I love to write, I enjoy the stories that I am working on.  Sometimes I wake up in the morning and immediately think of what’s going on in my current story, excited about what happens next.  I guess, I need to trust that more, follow that joy and excitement.  And just so we all know I am being realistic, I also know that writing isn’t all happy times, there are days that I’ll be slogging through just to get to the end of the scene or chapter.  I am ok with that though, because the fun days will make it worth it.  I just have to keep up with it so that I make it through to the fun parts.

So, I’ll be working on my writing schedule and oh, maybe, actually writing this next week. Also, I am trying to remember to put only one space after a period at the end of sentence.  I remember about every third sentence, hopefully I’ll be quick to adapt.

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132 days…

Cat computerSo, my computer crashed last week.  Luckily, I was able to do a refresh instead of a full reset.  With the refresh my files were saved but I lost all of my emails and all of my programs.  It took me two days just to get into email, then several days of updating and program loading.  Last night, I finally got my writing program loaded and was able to open my most recent work-in-progress.  I also recovered my email files which ended up being a happy accident.  The whole incident was a wake up call, believe me I’ll be setting up a monthly schedule for backing up my computer.

Clearly I didn’t get much writing done during all of that.  I’ll have to do some backing up with my writing too.  I lost a week and I’ll have to go back to read over everything and get back into where I was with the story.  This week, I am hoping to get my read through done and then back to writing every day.  One good thing is that while waiting in line for my car to be emission tested I was able to work out a few plot points that had been a bit tangled.

Sometimes it feels like there have been so many setbacks and obstacles recently with my writing.  I started this year saying that 2014 was going to be my year.  I was going to get my work in progress rewritten, out to beta readers and maybe even take a shot at self publishing.  It’s been a tough year, and there’s only four months left in 2014, it would be smarter to just do what I can now and regroup for 2015.  Right now I am not feeling all that smart.  I am feeling stubborn and a little mad.  I had a plan for this year and I’ll be damned if I am going to let all of these little crappy things that keep happening stand in the way.

Come hell or high water, I am going get my rewrites done and get it to my beta readers.  I am going to write that novella too.  I’ve got 132 days left in 2014.  132 days, I can do this.  It’s not world domination but it’s a start.