Friday, March 18, 2011

Is Procrastination Holding You Back?

“If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing.” ~ Homer Simpson
By far, the best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing. As a matter of fact, I’m right in the middle of not doing something I should be doing right now, because I should be working on my newest book that I just started. The poor thing has been calling my name for an hour or so now, and I’ve been working very hard to ignore it.
Sometimes it’s not hard for me to get to work—these are the early days usually when I have a great idea and I just can’t wait to get it put down on paper. (these days don’t come around often enough, sadly) But if I don’t have a clear idea in mind, or if the weather outside is just too pretty, or there is something really good on TV…you get the picture. It’s all too easy to just put it off for a little while.
Then the guilt sets in. And the self-doubt. There is a silly little commerical on TV for a breakfast product in which a little girl is in a spelling contest and dancing around her is Mean Old Self Doubt chanting “You don’t know it!” You can’t do it!”
How well I know the feeling, Little Girl! What an annoying little twerp. So is there anything we can we do about procrastination? What would that be? Is there an answer?
Let's start with the standard advice. You've heard all these trite little aphorisms before:
• Just Do It (If I could “Just Do It” I wouldn’t be sitting here, arranging all my paper clips into order by size and color)
• Break the unwanted task into smaller tasks (Like what? Write one paragraph? Which I will then I sit and stare at it until it looks like untalented, no good garbage—which the little dancing twerp has been trying to tell me all along)
• Do the hard task first (it’s all hard)
• Reward yourself – blah, blah, blah…(by the way, this is definitely NOT my problem—I am very good to myself all the time—these tight jeans I have on are mute testament to that)
You've probably read about the so-called reasons why we procrastinate:
• It's a mechanism to deal with stress. (The stress is caused by my not getting to work!)
• You do not want to do it (well, duh).
• You have no interest in the task (no kidding?)
• Your fears are holding you hostage (Well, that and the Ghost Hunters Marathon on SciFi channel)
• Perfectionism (Have you seen my house today? Hmmm, not so much)
So what is the answer? I’m not sure I have the answer. (if I had that kind of power over time and space, I can assure you I wouldn’t be sitting here) For me, it’s trying to get rid of the distractions. Turning off the TV, the phone and not even trying to go online “just for a minute to check emails.” Then I tell myself, just write for about 30 minutes, and see how it goes. Usually I get caught up in the storyline in that time I keep going. If not, I get up and try again later. I’ll always come back to it eventually, because I’m OCD like that.
To misquote Jonathan Winers just a little bit, “I couldn't wait for motivation, so I went ahead without it.” What about you? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? What do you do when your muse has taken a hike?
The witty DorothyParker once said, “Live, drink, be merry, love the reeling midnight through, For tomorrow ye may die, but alas we never do.”


  1. You sound just like me! I have a million and one reasons I can't sit down and write--like right now. I'm surfing blogs rather than working on my MS. Great post.

  2. Thanks Lisa! I would so much rather surf blogs than write! LOL!