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Thread: How do you deal with procrastination?

  1. #1
    In the land of frost, volcanoes, and well-armed women
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    How do you deal with procrastination?

    I've got about one third left to go, I know what is going to happen, I can think up conversations and descriptions and whatnot when I'm walking or driving or watching tv or doing about anything else except writing, I just can't seem to be able to get any of that down. I have even managed to open the file on several days, but then I just dawdle for a while, realize I can't really think of anything and besides I sort of want a cup of tea right about now and never mind I should have finished this thing already, several weeks or maybe months ago. And the rest of the time I'm busy planning the next thing, or several. Help!

  2. #2
    figuring it all out Triangulos's Avatar
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    I'm procrastinating right now. In fact every time I come on this site I could (should) strictly be writing instead, and I wonder how many regulars here can say that!

    The only advice I can offer is that when I really do force myself to get working, I get into the flow pretty quickly and end up kicking myself for all those previous times I could have just got on with it and how much further on I'd be if I had done.

    I've tried kidding myself that my procrastination is actually my subconscious marshalling my thoughts so that what I eventually write comes out better, but so far I don't buy it. It really is just timewasting :-/

    T.

  3. #3
    Sick and absent Shweta's Avatar
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    I write with other writer friends. When I am procrastinating, their productivity guilts me, and vice versa.
    Shweta Narayan
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  4. #4
    Down Under Fan HeronW's Avatar
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    Sometimes you just need to park butt in chair, don't surf, just open the file and write. I lay off for over a year due to depression and health issues though I kept thinking about the story, taking notes here and there. it waited for me, things are still bothersome but I'm getting a bit more done every day.

    Certain things can make the comp just feel plain uncomfortable: a screen set at the wrong resolution, or catching glare and making it hard to see, repetitive strain injury can be alleviated by getting ergonomic keyboards set up like ///\\\ vs ||||||, the 3M mouse handles like a joystick sort of, much easier on the wrist. New glasses can ease eye strain. A change of chairs or a new cushion can ease leg strain.
    Sometimes the only thing between the lines is empty space--except for here: http://heronw.blogspot.com/

  5. #5
    They've been very bad, Mr Flibble Mr Flibble's Avatar
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    Dealing with procrastination is easy: put it off till tommorrow. Yeah, groanworthy I know.

    Actually I use the carrot on a stick. I may not have that choccy bar till I've done X. I cannot have a cup of tea till this scene is fleshed out. I may not have that yummy looking bottle of wine till I have got down 1000 words.

    The carrot gets me started -- and that's the hard part done, because once I'm started it's easy.




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    i'm impossible to describe Staroffurby's Avatar
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    You just need to be forceful, the problem i find is using a computer to write. That computer being connected to the net. So you sit down and think, Oh i will just check emails first. This then progresses until your looking at random sites forgetting that your mission is to write. Then again i have also found inspiration from just randomly surfing the web.

    When i finish writing for the day i always stop mid sentence, this normally encourages me to start writing as soon as the document is open.

    Like others have admitted when i am here, its because i am a naughty boy and i should be writing.
    If i am not here , then you have frightened me and made me runaway. If you want my friendship, which you do as i am awesome company then i shall be here.

  7. #7
    Sick and absent Shweta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IdiotsRUs View Post
    Actually I use the carrot on a stick. I may not have that choccy bar till I've done X.
    <snip>
    The carrot gets me started -- and that's the hard part done, because once I'm started it's easy.
    Oh! That reminds me. I do this too. No hot chocolate until I've put down 500 words. But every 500 words (in one day) gets me a shot glass-sized serving of really nummy hot chocolate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Staroffurby View Post
    When i finish writing for the day i always stop mid sentence, this normally encourages me to start writing as soon as the document is open.
    I have heard this is an awesome motivator. I can't do it. I've tried. How do you people manage it? Every time, I've given up (at some ungodly hour) and gone Sigh, okay sentence, I Will Finish You, then may I sleep?
    Shweta Narayan
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  8. #8
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin sabo10's Avatar
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    One way I dealt with it when I was writing my novel was to create a spreadsheet showing my daily wordcount. Every time I minimised the word processor window, I would update my wordcount instead of checking my email. It was quick and refocused me.

    (Now I'm editing the novel and this method doesn't work anymore. Oh well.)

  9. #9
    Omar's comin' DVGuru's Avatar
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    I find I procrastinate a lot less with a basic outline on index cards. When I wrote without an outline, there were times I would stare at the screen for an entire writing session and maybe end up with a few paragraphs. Now I sit down and bang out the words. This may or may not work for you, depending on your view of outlining.

  10. #10
    Mackinac Island Fanatic tehuti88's Avatar
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    The only way to deal with procrastination is to just sit down and DO. It sounds harsh, but as a great procrastinator I've found that that's the only thing that works for me.

    Other posts mentioned ideas I also use; if you're itching to get up and do something else, tell yourself you can do that AFTER you've done, say, 50% of what you plan to write for the day. I've been taking notes on my writing so I can keep track of where it's going and have to do two chapters a day, and it gets excruciating. My attention wanders so much. I'll look out the window and want to do something as simple as just get up and look out at the birds on the porch. But I make myself sit and keep taking the notes, reading over the words over and over until they make their way into my brain. I tell myself I can go look at the birds when I'm halfway through the chapter, but only for a moment or so. Then I have to get back to work until it's done. Maybe I can take a break and eat something when I'm done with the first chapter. But then, again, it's back to work.

    Also mentioned was to stop the previous day's work in midsentence. I don't go so far myself, but I've found that stopping in the middle of the action, when you KNOW what you want to happen next, is a wonderful way to easily get started writing the next day. I used to write about 20kb a day until I found I was always struggling to start the next day. I cut that in half and always left off in the middle of a scene so I could pick up the next day with something interesting. You might want to leave a tiny note for yourself though so you don't forget where it was your story was going when you left off!

  11. #11
    Forever in Elysium runner4life's Avatar
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    I love procrastinating! Although, I know I'll end up yelling at myself at the end of the day when I don't even finish 500 words. Since I normally have an outline of some sort, I'll at least begin looking over that. Then I basically have to force myself to sit down and write.

    That really is the only way to get over it. ^^^
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  12. #12
    Fear the Death Ray maestrowork's Avatar
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    I come online, here, to moan about it.

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  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW Round John Virgin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristiina View Post
    How do you deal with procrastination?
    Adderall. And the deep-seated suspicion that procrastination is actually a good thing, since its payoff is immediate!
    Thoughts for the day (or week or month):
    "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." (Thomas Paine)
    "I'd lie to you for your love--and that's the truth." (The Bellamy Brothers)
    "England, get out of Scotland!" (anonymous)

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  14. #14
    In the land of frost, volcanoes, and well-armed women
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    Allright, I just got my really, reaally old mac on the table. It's way too slow for a net connection, and there is a limit on how many words you can get in one Word document, but otherwise it's still working fine. I have to admit internet can be a big distraction, so maybe if I can't get online when I'm trying to work it will be easier to focuse.

    Except then I can always go and make that cup of tea.

    Wish me luck.

  15. #15
    illiterate primate Bing Z's Avatar
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    I have a similar situation. I'm, well, I guess I'm at about 2/5 and I'm stuck. I can't go on, so I start to fool around, hoping a little time off will help.

    I still occasionally go back to earlier parts of the story and my outlines, fixing tiny pieces here and there. Somehow, somewhere, I suddenly realized what had actually happened. I have a very lively MC, my hero, who is packed with good and severely flawed personalities. The heroine, however, has no flaws. She doesn't look real, and I can't feel her. How I realized it? The upcoming parts are hers, and I found it very difficult to go on--not much to show. I started to search, trying to establish some flaws in her, giving her conflicts to deal with. I'm near finished on that, and I think I'll be getting busy very soon again.

    I think at times procrastination isn't really procrastination. You may stop for a million reasons, some you simply may not have realized, and you can't go on without dealing with them first.

  16. #16
    I need espresso & chocolate! DeborahM's Avatar
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    I deal well with procrastination. I can sit and watch it all day when it comes to other things except writing.

    When I write, I write till I'm brain dead, then try to lie down and sleep, which sometimes doesn't work because then my brain comes alive and I have to get up and type until I can't any more. In other words, when I'm in a book, not even sleep gets in it's way.
    Some tiny thoughts can be loud.

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  17. #17
    Who? TrickyFiction's Avatar
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    Guilt. Having someone want to read it. Finding out that other people are writing faster than me. Realizing people who I think are going too slowly are actually moving faster than me. All these things put a fire under my bum.
    The very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they took the blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the people who had to read them to children rather than children themselves (who, on the whole, are quite keen on blood provided it's being shed by the deserving), and then wondered where the stories went.

    -Terry Pratchett

  18. #18
    Fair weather fanatic kzmiller's Avatar
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    Make it hurt. When I don't reach my writing goals (and I make them super easy when I'm in the dumps, have health issues or a busy schedule) I have to pay a dollar to my writing group. A dollar won't hurt me financially, but boy, having to hand over a dollar right there in front of everybody for a missed goal motivates me to make my goal for the next time.

    Some writers need it to hurt more. A friend of mine said he'd buy a round of beverages for the writer's group if he didn't make a goal for that month. Not only did he make all but one of his goal months, attendance to the writer's group meetings jumped!
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  19. #19
    Sick and absent Shweta's Avatar
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    I dislike making it hurt, personally. I function better with carrots than sticks -- because I'm too good at beating myself up as is.

    So probably works differently for different people (whoda thunk)
    Shweta Narayan
    Clariondiego alum

    Apsara and Displaced, Goblin Fruit, summer 2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dichroic View Post
    The tricksters have unionized.
    Be very afraid.
    ---
    2009 Acceptances: 6
    Year 3 Submission game score: 1.5
    Pieces currently out: 3

  20. #20
    is way off topic Dale Emery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kristiina View Post
    Help!
    Procrastinate later.

  21. #21
    Slowly does it. Manderley's Avatar
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  22. #22
    Angry Bunny Girl Stormhawk's Avatar
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    I just give in and let it take over.

    Then I go back to the chapter, all nice and rested. ^_^

    An urban fantasy serial for geeks.

  23. #23
    Swordsman zornhau's Avatar
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    I fix the problem with the novel's structure and move on.
    (Newly Agented but unpublished author. The usual caveats apply.)

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  24. #24
    Tired and Disillusioned Momento Mori's Avatar
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    I'm going to come back and answer this later ...

    Oh, okay I'll do it now.

    I think a lot of getting over procrastination lies in actually getting into the habit of actually sitting down at your computer and typing something. As you get into a routine, it gets easier to sit there and concentrate and therefore you're less likely to procrastinate.

    In my case, I do it by working out how I'm going to spend my evenings when I get home from work (i.e. I know I'll have 30 minutes for dinner, maybe 30 minutes to make a phone call or watch tv and then the rest of the night at my comptuer). It helps that I do a print out every night of what I've been working on and spend my lunchbreak the next day reading through and making notes on it (I'm one of life's self-editors and it helps me keep the self-editing OCD under control), so that I have something immediate to do when I get home. I also make a note on whatever piece of dialogue/backstory/plot point/character issue I've thought about during the day, so that there's an on-going folder of things for me to consider.

    MM

  25. #25
    Who? TrickyFiction's Avatar
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    Okay, so actually, here's what helps me the most... even more than guilt. If it's natural for you to put things off by doing other things, just shift your priorities around. If you think, I must mow the lawn, gotta mow the lawn, you'll suddenly start writing as a way to put off mowing the lawn. Seriously. I never get more writing done than when I'm taking a class and have homework due.
    The very oldest stories are, sooner or later, about blood. Later on they took the blood out to make the stories more acceptable to children, or at least to the people who had to read them to children rather than children themselves (who, on the whole, are quite keen on blood provided it's being shed by the deserving), and then wondered where the stories went.

    -Terry Pratchett

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