Let Me Tell You a Story #32: Procrastination

When does giving myself a project break, letting my manuscript rest, become procrastination?

I’ve been missing blog posts this month. Since I’m not writing much, and I’m not reading that much either, I’ve felt like I had less to say worth putting in blog-post format. I rationalized that by saying, “It’s okay, you’re working a lot more than you did at your old job, or even at this new one over the summer. There’s only so much time in the day, and something has to give somewhere.” I still mostly stand by that, because the other half of my rationalization is that I blog more often/regularly than most of the other authors whose blogs I follow. I’ve even considered formally cutting back on my blog schedule, because that way I could spend more time “writing.” Still on the fence about it.

Except I’m not writing, either. I’m doing the bare minimum to keep my 4thewords game streak going, by typing up book reviews and these blog posts and some journal entries, and not “writing.” At first, I was waiting for my beta readers to finish their feedback. Well, I’m not waiting anymore, I’ve had it all for two weeks now and I still haven’t really started the new rewrite draft.

I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim. I know that’s semi-random, to go back to a game first published nine years ago, and explaining how that became my video game of choice would require so much of my gaming history that doesn’t really matter to anyone else that I’m going to skip it and just say, it’s giving me what I want right now from a gaming experience.

But, although it’s always easier to boot up Skyrim and spend an hour hitting things with swords than it is to start rewriting, it’s not really the game’s fault. Sure it’s fun, sure I’ve spent a lot of time playing over the past three weeks, but if I hadn’t reinstalled it I’d probably be reading instead, or starting a new cross-stitch project, or something else that’s not writing.

I’m avoiding it actively now. I can tell, because I keep promising myself I’ll start tomorrow, when I’m feeling more up to it, and yet, I never do.

I’m procrastinating.

So I spent a little time wondering why. I’ve gotten pretty darn good at conquering procrastination when it comes to chores–the consequences of putting off doing the laundry too long, or letting the dishes pile up into a mountain that it seems impossible to fully clear out, are obvious to me from past experience, and I’m not willing to put up with them. I’ll even use doing the chores now to avoid writing!

But starting a new draft is an open-ended, formless task. I can impose structure on it by working chapter by chapter each day, or working for a specific amount of time, or whatever. I’ve done it before. But it’s so huge, and intimidating, and that makes it hard to get started.

Also, I’m feeling down about it because when I started the year, I’d hoped I’d have another published book by the end of it. I put out a book every year from 2015 – 2017, and I missed last year because of many, many reasons, but I’ve made my peace with that. I was really hoping to get back into a yearly cycle, and #spookyromancenovel is just not going to be ready. It still needs so much work. While I understand that’s not failure, and there’s nothing wrong and everything right with not rushing something out the door that’s not up to my standards, it doesn’t inspire me to get started.

If you get right down to it, I’m even procrastinating by writing this blog post. I could have woken up this morning, eaten my breakfast, and dived right into Chapter 1 revisions. I didn’t. I chose to write this instead, to sort out my writing-related feelings and let you guys know why I’ve been less consistent than usual about my blog, and also nearly radio silent on social media, for those of you who follow me there as well.

I don’t have an answer yet. I could go read yet more articles on overcoming procrastination, but like most of them say near the beginning, I’d just be using them as another form of procrastination, even under the nominal guise of research and self-help. When I write the last word here, schedule the post, and close the page, will I go right to #spookyromancenovel and finally get started? I should. I’ll try. I don’t know how well it’s going to go, but I’ll try.

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