Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Procrastination Station

by Joanne Kennedy, Procrastinator-in-Chief


Procrastination? It's my middle name. Why do you think this blog is posting late?


Actually, it's more disorganization that procrastination. And perfectionism. All those --isms and --ations keep me from getting a darn thing done.


I've got lots of good reasons to procrastinate, though. My charming husband tempts me to go out and play -- or hang out at Starbucks -- when I should be working. And I have a couple of dogs that want lots of attention, too.


And the dogs are...unpredictable. For example, Scrape and I were headed out the door not long ago when my Jack Russell Terrier rocketed out the front door and attacked a neigbor's dog for no reason other than the fact that he dared to set one of his furry little paws on our our lawn. The dog was a cockapoo, and when we extricated him from the melee, it became clear she had tried her best to turn him into merely a "poo." Poor puppy!


The five minute fight turned into a five hundred dollar vet bill for the two dogs. Those cockapoos are tough customers and he turned out to be okay, but Libby now has seven staples in her forehead. Scrape calls her "zipperhead." She also has to wear the cone of shame for two weeks.


We never did get where we were going that day -- and that's just one example of how procrastination stems from complication.


Then there are the books. I write two a year -- nothing compared to some of my writer friends -- but we're all different. I'm not a fast writer -- I just write a lot. I spend most of my day in my fictional world, up in my office tapping away at the computer. I do a lot of background work, and a lot of editing and cutting and perfecting.


I know a lot of writers who have full-time jobs or even two jobs, along with little kids to take care of and still manage to blog daily and put out three or four books a year - good books. How the heck do you do it?


I'm talking to you, Sourcebooks Sisters.


I want to know your secrets to productivity! Put them in the comments below and maybe I'll find some hints and tips that will help me get more done.

25 comments:

  1. When you find out how everyone else does it, let me know. I'm exhausted!

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  2. I'm not surprised you're pooped, Shana! You've had a lot going on lately.

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  3. Aha! I thought Husband was a procrastinator and your blog just made me realize he's infected with chronic perfectionism. Can't cure either one but it's nice to know his malady!
    Poor little dog...she looks so sorry but that miserable mean mutt next door should have stayed on her side of the grass.

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  4. I'm like you Joanne. I just get waylaid by life. One of the kids needs something, or the dog, and I forget where I was. By the time I remember and get going, one of the kids needs something else...

    Cute doggie!

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  5. Carolyn, you're right - perfectionism is the problem. I fool with things and fool with them, trying to make them just right, and then I don't get them done at all! And if I do get them done, I'm not sure they're any better than they would be if I just dashed them off. It's frustrating, and a state of mind I'm trying to break!
    And really, the fight was all Libby's fault. She attacked and wouldn't back down. She didn't learn anything, either - when we took her to Petco to buy the collar, she growled at all the other dogs even though she was still sedated from the stitching. She's feisty!

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  6. Anita, I like "waylaid by life" a lot better than "disorganized." And kids are a good excuse. If they need something, it's okay to drop everything and do it!

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  7. Setting goals. I didn't make my goals this weekend, so this morning before work, I quit goofing off and wrote my heart out and am back on track. :) Not that I'm not planning on some more goof off time, mind you!!!

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  8. It's just putting fires out. You tackle the worst of the flames first. Oh, and you don't sleep. On my last deadline, I worked 28 hours straight before I sent the MS off. Then I was too worried to sleep. What if it sucked? My agent had a good laugh over that one...

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  9. Joanne, I'm so glad both doggies are okay!!! Whew, how scary that must have been for all!

    I'm not the most organized person by any stretch... but as for keeping it all from completely falling apart as I write 4-6 books a year... I'm very, very, very protective of my sleep. If I can't sleep, I get frazzled and can't gather my thoughts. I have a ka-zillion sleep rituals.... hmm.... maybe that will be my blog this month because yes, I have been putting off writing it. :)

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  10. You know, I think it's a mind thing. My mind just tells me I can't rest until I get it done, I can't move on to other things until whatever I'm working on is finished.
    Amelia

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  11. How do I work full time and write too? I think it has something to do with the aliens who abducted me years ago and reconfigured my brain. It's the only explanation.

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  12. Terry, I don't see you as a "goofing off" kind of person! I'm always amazed at how much you do, with your writing and your bears and the day job. You're one of those productive people I was talking about!
    But I agree about the goal-setting. I do have goals for writing the books, so that always gets done. And I have a to-do list, but it's so long I can't keep up with it and stuff drops off the end without getting done!

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  13. Robin, if we just didn't need to sleep we'd get everything done! I know what you mean about worrying after sending a manuscript out, though. I spend a lot of time hand-wringing, only to discover everything's fine.

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  14. Catherine, please do blog about your sleep rituals! I agree that sleep is important, but I get so wound up during the day I can't drop off at night.
    And yes, I'm so glad the dogs are okay. I was upset that mine caused so much trouble and actually hurt another dog. She has a doggie Napoleon complex because she's so little, but usually I keep her under control.

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  15. Cheryl, can you tell me how to get in touch with those aliens?!!? I love the way your brain works! Were they sexy aliens...?

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  16. Prioritizing. Yep. Do the things I have to do and put off everything else.

    I have a dog that hates other dogs. Luckily, her bark is worse than her bite and if she ever does confront one of the many dogs/squirrels/rabbits
    /birds/children/cats she yaps at excessively, she tucks her tail between her legs and flees. Glad Libby and the non-poo-part of that cock-a-poo are okay.

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  17. Poor doggie. ;-(

    One way I get done what I get done - which is so much less than so many of the other CasaBabes, but such is life - is that I've learned the hard way not to overcommit, and to factor in some wiggle room for complications. I see no value or valor in being exhausted. It simply isn't worth it to me.

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  18. I have yet to figuir out how authors do it. They keep a day job take care of a family and still write. I guess we all do what we have to.

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  19. Amelia, I think that would be called focus. I have it when it comes to writing - it's the other stuff I have trouble with! I just need to take the techniques I use to make deadlines and use them in other aspects of my life.

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  20. Olivia, I wish Libby would do more tail-tucking! I think part of the problem is that she growls at my big hundred-pound mutt and he listens - so she expects other dogs to let her get away with it, too.

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  21. Tamara, great advice! I've learned to say "no" a lot more often lately. It helps a lot!

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  22. Virginia, I can't figure out how we do it either! I guess what it comes down to is this: we love what we do and we find a way. But some of us do more than others, and I'm in awe of those who juggle a lot of jobs.

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  23. Poor zipperhead - she looks kinda cute in a cone though. I completely understand about getting distracted by life. With two kids and a job I'm lucky to write one book a year.

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  24. I'm not published yet, but I do maintain a pretty good writing schedule. I can crank out first drafts very quickly after I've done some preliminary work, but revisions? Ugh. Painful and long. I think that will change after I get a contract (see how positive I am here??). Then the editor will tell me it is DONE and I can move on.

    How do I stay in the chair without an editor demanding my book? The microwave timer. I set it for 45-60 minutes. I write till it beeps, then give myself a break for 10-15 minutes. I also pay myself a quarter for every writing goal I meet (got that idea from Kelly Stone at a conference--she got the idea from a pubbed author). I add up the coins, exchange them for bills every week, then start again.

    Your puppy looks so cute in the cone of shame :-)

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  25. Awww. My dog had to wear one of those collars for a while...it just breaks my heart, poor thing. I enjoyed your post though, Joanne.

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