Saturday, October 17, 2009

Accountability: Fighting the Procrastination Blues

I think most authors, regardless of publishing status, will tell you that one of the hardest aspects about writing is procrastination. It's like a disease that creeps in every time I sit down to my keyboard and pull up my latest work-in-progress. Suddenly I remember that the drapes need cleaning, or that my life will end unless I iron the pile of laundry (one of my least favorite things to do). Anything will do, so long as I can avoid digging down into my self and unleashing raw emotion onto the page. Before I know it, several days have passed, and my story remains unfinished.

However, I have found that there are ways to combat procrastination: one of them is accountability. A friend of mine and I have banded together in an effort to remain on a consistent writing track by holding each other accountable for our writing goals each day.

Every morning, one of us emails the other, asking the question, "What will you write today?" Through email, we communicate what we would like to accomplish with respect to writing - everything from how many words we'd like to put out, to brainstorming through a particular scene that hasn't snapped into place yet.

For my part, this accomplishes two things: I think about writing daily, and know there is someone who cares about whether I fulfill my day's goals or not. Because I know I'm not alone, that at least one other writer experiences similar pains and successes, I am more apt to sit down at my desk, open up my story, and write. Most days, I do what I plan and have begun to see progress.

How do you deal with procrastination? What are some methods that work for you?


Sheila said...

How do I deal with procrastination? Um ... mostly, I sort of embrace it rather than dealing with it. I'll get to dealing with it later. Right?

It's one of the reasons I like NaNoWriMo. With so many people aware that I am doing it and watching my progress, it's much easier to keep from falling behind.

I just need to figure out how to make that work outside of November.

Andrea said...

That is a great idea and I'm glad it works for you.

Procrastination is something I struggle with many aspects of my life. My dad is the same way- I still remember the cartoon he tacked up on a corkboard when I was a kid: "Don't Wait- Postpone Now!" Yikes. My life motto. So I work daily to recognize what it is that drives me to put something off, whether it be writing or laundry or finishing a guest room that has been unfinished for over four years and then I try to deal with that emotion then and there. I tell myself that I am worth the hard work and the effort and that I am smart enough to accomplish my goals. No more excuses. It doesn't always work but the more I tell myself that, the more it sticks. In a more concrete manner, I give myself a certain amount of time to goof off and then I get down to business. Again, doesn't always work but a lot of times it does.