Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oh Procrastination, How I Love Thee...

If you happen to do any sort of non-paying activity (whether it's a hobby or, say, writing) then you know full well what Procrastination is (and yes, I capitalized it, because it's that big of a deal). It's like a relentless creature from the depths of Hell--we'll call him Mr. Imp--that will stop at nothing to get what it wants--which is for you to never finish said activity.

Mr. Imp lingers in the shadows, claws out, red eyes glowing, just waiting for you to slip up and turn on the TV or open your web browser--he knows you're gonna, it's only a matter of time.

And sure enough, you do. You had every intention of sitting down to write (or throw some clay on the pottery wheel, or break out the knitting needles), but the rerun of last year's Food Network's Halloween Wars was calling out to you from the DVR, so you took a right turn toward the living room instead (um, just an example. Moving on). And Mr. Imp couldn't have been happier. He smiled, exposing his gnarled teeth, as you slid into that comfy chair and flipped on the tube. No writing/pottery/knitting today. Victory for The Dark Side.

Procrastination is evil, pure and simple. And like all things evil, it's so easy to attain and feels so good while doing it. I mean, isn't vegging out in front of the TV instead of opening your MS way more simple and relaxing? It's like a vacation from your craft. 

Curse you, Mr. Imp.

But alas, we have discovered ways of thwarting Mr. Imp's devilish desire to see you fall asleep while sitting in the front porch swing (again, just an example. Ahem). Yes, we are onto him, that demon in disguise. We will not be defeated.


Here are a few things you can do when you feel Mr. Imp's claws scraping against your back, forcing you to watch TV or surf the Internet. Just be forewarned: Will-power is a prerequisite.

1. TAKE A WALK When you feel the urge to ignore that Word doc or notebook and pen, head outside and just start walking. A quick trip down the block and back will help refocus your brain on what it is you need to be doing instead of what you want to be doing. It works, for realz.

2. READ A BOOK Now I know this one may seem like more of Mr. Imp's devious victory, but it's not, really. Especially if you're a writer (if you're a potter or a knitter, um, try digging in the dirt or feeling up those cardigans hanging in your closet). For you see, reading is like crack to a writer. It's brain food, positive energy, research. Not only will it help thwart Mr. Imp's plan, but it will also refuel your desire to write something as good as what you're reading.

3. ALTER YOUR MEDIUM No, I don't mean force your psychic that lives down the street to change her hair color or nail polish--I mean alternate how you write. If you normally use your computer, try grabbing a notebook and pen (and to up your determination, take said notebook and pen outside); if longhand is your poison of choice, shake it up by sitting at your desk and turning on the demon box (uh, that's your computer, in case you didn't know). A simple change in your normal routine can force your brain to ignore Mr. Imp's pleas for the telly and give you that extra burst of inspiration you need.

4. LISTEN TO MUSIC Nary a writer anywhere doesn't know the effects music can have on the ol' creative juices, right? Songs basically do what Chip Douglas from The Cable Guy thinks we need: They give music to the stories of our lives. Hearing truthful, haunting lyrics have inspired countless people, so there's proof positive that it'll do the same for you. So turn on the radio, turn off everything else (yep, your phone included. This is serious, folks) and let those lyrics force Mr. Imp into submission. 

5. BE CREATIVE Nothing is as inspiring as creating something out of nothing. So when you feel Mr. Imp's procrastinating fingers curling around yours like ice in winter, shake 'em off--and occupy yours with something new. Plant a flower. Bake a cake (my fave, btw). Paint a canvas. The list of creative outlets is literally endless, so find something to not only keep your restless hands moving, but also to keep your brain inspired to create. For creation is the key to writing.

I know there are countless other ways to ignore Procrastination, but these are a few that have worked for me--and still do. Please, share some of the ways you show Mr. Imp who's boss. I'll be busy walking with my notebook while reading a book, listening to music, and knitting (yeah, I got it bad).


Jordan Dane said...

Wow. Cool alternatives here, Jamie. I can see how some of these could work. I can be a major procrastinator.

For me, I like having a daily word count so I make progress every day. I try to build in flexibility that I can adjust the count if I need time off. I don't want to beat myself up for not making one day's count if I can ramp up the next day & get back on track. I feel in control when I start a project & chip away at it. My $.02.

Jamie Manning said...

And an excellent $.02 it is, Jordan! I think a daily word count is a great idea, too--gives you a goal to strive for for the day, and hides the fact you have a HUGE project to finish, you know? Great advice!