Five Ways to Avoid Last Week’s Procrastinating Extravaganza: Okay, It’s Time to Write

I feel a little guilty about last week’s post.  Maybe I have incited some of you to cast off the weight of an unfinished book/story/whatever, and as it slowly dawns on you that the fulfillment to be found in avoiding your writing is fleeting, at best, you are beginning to blame me for the fact that you and your novel are now, for all intents and purposes, strangers.

So I am going to redeem myself this week with a post on things you can do to get back to your novel (along with inspiring library pictures).  There it sits, a file on a laptop, scribbled words in a notebook, a plethora of ideas on stickies on the wall… and it is now angry.

But don’t worry, because writing isn’t that hard to get back into.  Really.  At least, I hope it isn’t because I’m about to do it.  Soon.  Like, any day now…

1. Take Your Novel on a Field Trip

Your story probably feels neglected now, and it’s time to take it out and let it see some daylight.  Coffee shops, libraries, and bookstores will all soften your story up a bit and make it more inclined to like you.

I’ve talked about this before.  Finding that special place to sit and make the writing experience enjoyable is incredibly useful if you have been a dedicated procrastinator for the past… oh… however long.  For me, making a date with a bookstore or coffee shop inspires me to work.  I give myself a certain number of hours there and for those few hours, I am in The Zone.  I want to write as much as I possibly can in that span of time.  Plus, I normally get tea or something, and then it becomes relaxing instead of toil.

A field trip to this library in Prague would probably do the trick...

A field trip to this library in Prague would probably do the trick…

2. Edit Sparingly

If you are getting back into writing and you have a story sitting there in some state of unfinishedness, you are going to want to be gentle.  A constant temptation of mine is to go back through the whole thing and edit it fiendishly.  It’s not that this editing is bad and I usually change all sorts of things that needed changing.  However, by the time I get up to where I stopped, I’m burnt out and depressed and I don’t want to write.  Then I need to recover from the editing.

I do like to edit sparingly, though, when I’m getting back into things.  I reread the last few chapters, however much I need to in order to become familiar with what I’ve written and where I was going.  This also helps me get back into the right rhythm of that particular story.  If I spot something small, I will change it, of course.  Spelling errors horrify me.

I won’t dig deep into the story at this point.  Not yet.  First, I need to write a little bit more so I can see actual progress being made.

3. Find Someone to Guilt Trip Motivate You.

prague libraryLet’s face it, when you’re only accountable to yourself, you are much more likely to give yourself free passes.  Aw, you poor thing, you tell yourself, you’ve been working so hard and no one appreciates what you go through! You don’t really need to write that chapter today.  Tomorrow will work just as well. You just go watch some Doctor Who and feel better, alright?

You need a writing buddy. I have a writer’s group and I use the pressure of those meetings to motivate me to write a new chapter.  If I don’t write it, then I don’t get to read it and get feedback and appreciation.  And they will know that I didn’t write anything.  The shame… the unspeakable shame.

Find someone to pester you for chapters.  Find someone who will tell you that you have been an abject slob of an author and that books everywhere are thinking evil thoughts about you.

On a more positive note: find someone who likes your writing and wants to see more of it.  Then you have someone to please and your friend gets to read the next bestseller before it’s even out!  It’s a win-win!

4. Reward yourself for writing a specific amount.

We all like treats, right?  If you tell yourself (very strictly, mind, with no cheating) that you will buy yourself that lovely new book you have been wanting for ages, but only if you finish writing thirty pages of your novel (or whatever – maybe at this point a sentence deserves some sort of prize), you have something to look forward to besides the joy of seeing the written pages.  Sometimes, let’s be honest now, writing just doesn’t feel rewarding in and of itself, especially if you are convinced your book hates you.

5.  When All Else Fails, Write Something New

robert burns writing desk dumfries scotland

This is the desk where the poet Robert Burns did his writing. Just think, someday your writing desk will be famous too! If you ever finish a novel, that is…

This sounds somewhat familiar to my suggestion last week to start a new novel when you don’t want to work on your current one.  I’m not cheating (really!) by suggesting it again.  Most of us have probably reached a point where we flat out aren’t interested in our current book.  Maybe we just can’t figure out how to get past a certain point or we don’t like where it’s going.  Maybe we do need to step back for a while.

The thing is, it’s very tempting to feel like we can work on that project and that project only.  It’s our novel!  It’s our ticket to fame, bestsellers lists, movie deals!  It’s the most Amazing Thing We’ve Ever (Nearly) Accomplished!  I know I’ve felt guilty about setting something aside in favor of a new idea, like I’m being unfaithful to my current work.

But if you’re writing, you are writing, and sometimes that’s what you need most.  The novel will still be there when you come back to it and, in the meantime, a short story or two, a new novel idea, a poem, a song, a how-to handbook… whatever it is – you’ll have written it.

So enough with the procrastination.  It’s time to face that writing again.  Do it.  Right now.

You’ll thank me later (or at least forgive me for leading you astray last week…)prague library


About Melissa

generally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...

Posted on January 23, 2013, in Art, Humor, Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Photography, Writing Hints and Helps and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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