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Monday, March 17, 2014

Insights into procrastinating

I am totally guilty of procrastination, almost every day. In fact I was just procrastinating; after writing this third attempt at an opening sentence, I looked at my floor and thought, "Oh, I should sweep it. Right now." We've all done this before: we should be doing a task that needs to be done, but instead we choose to do something else.

But procrastination doesn't always have to be the enemy. Usually, procrastination isn't happening because you're lazy. It's happening because what you need to do is difficult or unpleasant. It means you are not in "the zone" yet. I put off cleaning the bathroom quite often. It's hard to get in the zone when you're staring at a toilet. But eventually, I am forced into the zone because otherwise, that toilet will scare me.

For a writer, procrastination happens because there is a difficult scene, character, dialogue, or opening line. You need to be in the zone to write. Sometimes, sitting in front of your computer or poised with pen and notebook on your lap stubbornly forcing words out will help. But more likely you will just sit there banging your head against a hard object. When the zone finally invites you in, however, the writing starts flowing and you're ready to return to the work in progress.

M.J. Moores wrote a post for this blog explaining to writers that it is a good thing to procrastinate because sometimes we need the break. Writers are put in two categories of procrastinators: the escapist and the avoider. The escapist is a writer who needs a relaxation break and walks away from writing to sleep, read a book, listen to music, or some other relaxing activity. The avoider is a writer who needs to refocus by doing a different activity that moves the body, such as going for a walk or house cleaning. Both types of procrastinators are doing an activity that allows the mind to recharge and refocus on the original task at hand without having to stare at it and feel like you aren't getting anywhere.

So, once you discover that you are procrastinating, don't fight it. Instead, use it to give your writing mind a break, a breather, so that you can come back to your piece clear and ready. Now that I have shared this with you, I'm off to clean the house. ^_^

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