Procrastination

1/24/19

Some call it writer’s block, but I just call it procrastination. It seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. The Writer’s Path recently had an interesting post about writers block, and The Green Room had a post about procrastination yesterday. Is it a winter thing? I’d think being stuck indoors would lead to more writing when compared to the distractions caused by nicer weather. Maybe my own experience is indicative of this phenomenon.

After getting 17,000 words down in my WIP novel for NaNoWriMo in November, I did very little in December. I sent the usual batch of submissions as rejections came in for the various short stories I have out, but I did next to no writing, especially in the WIP novel. I maybe added 1000 words there the entire month.

So what gives? Honestly, I felt a little burned out after writing every day for a month in November. I’d never done that before. I’ve read, and I believe it, that writing is like any other endurance activity. The more you do it, the more you build up your ability to do it. However, too much can still burn you out. I’m an avid runner, but I don’t run every day. I never have. I’ve never wanted to run so much I get sick of it or risk injury.

I opened the file for my novel in mid-January and saw I hadn’t worked on it since December 19, over three weeks at that point. I needed motivation. I’d continued to plot the storylines during my runs, but that hadn’t driven me to put anything on the screen yet.

On one of those runs, I came up with the idea for a flash fiction piece. I immediate hammered that story out in the hopes the process would reignite the fire. It was to no avail, though that piece turned out fine and will start making the submission rounds soon after a quick edit.

Then a snow day hit on a Sunday, the day I reserve for my long run. With a snow storm forecasted, I decided to move my run up to Saturday afternoon, thus freeing up my Sunday morning. I took advantage. While the family slept, I got up and wrote.

It still took me awhile to get back into the story. I had to reread the last chapter to remember where I was and to fix some things in that chapter. I only ended up with about 300 new words before the family got up, but it felt good to get those down. Now I’m feeling better about continuing. I’ve since added some more totally about another 1000 in the novel. At that rate I’ll finish in four years. I’ll reserve figuring out how to increase that productivity for a later post.

The longer I was away from the WIP, the more likely I was to stay away. I’d find any excuse to do something else rather than work on the novel, even if the distraction was writing related. While I think a short break was needed after NaNoWriMo, the break I took was too long. It just made things harder.

What has been your experience with burnout, procrastination, or writer’s block? Are they all the same for you, or do they manifest themselves differently? How did you combat them?

5 thoughts on “Procrastination

  1. Self-described amateur writer here: I struggle a lot with procrastinating my writing. That old saying “The hardest part is getting started” may be cliche, but it’s definitely true. I’m always busy with something that seems so much more important than whatever personal writing project I have to work on, so I often just don’t write. Which is ironic given that most of the time, my writing project is much more interesting than the other task I’m doing, so you’d think I’d be able to prioritize it a little more… but nope. Anyways, one of my goals for the new year is to develop a consistent writing habit, because my lack of one has greatly hindered my writing in recent years.

    Good luck with your WIP — I’m looking forward to your future posts!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah… it’s hard to fit writing in when there’s always so many other things going on in life. I guess that’s why some writers swear by getting up extremely early in the morning to write. I can’t do that, though — I’m not a morning person at all. Maybe you’d have better luck?

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a great suggestion, and one I’ve utilized. I already get up at 5am and during NaNoWriMo, used that hour before the family got up to write. It was glorious, but it meant I sacrificed my exercise time, which is usually how I spend that first hour. That plan was fine short term, but I’m back to the usual exercise routine now. It also means an early bedtime though, so I need to figure out where I can squeeze writing time in elsewhere.

        Liked by 1 person

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