Elephants and Procrastination

Sorry for the late post! I choose to attribute my lateness to the highly productive writing session I had last night. It is definitely not because of the nap that I took yesterday after dinking around all morning with my zookeeper friend's elephants.

So how much did I get done? Saturday was writing group, so chapters 12-13 are now critiqued. I finally reached some sort of peace with chapter 14 - for now, anyway - so consider it ready for other people's eyes. I'm partially finished with chapter 15, and planning to do the rest this evening. Not the most productive weekend, but better than last week.

Really, I should be making far more progress than I am. Not that I shouldn't have taken the time for things like giving ginormous elephants pieces of carrots and walking in bright sunny parks. Creativity needs to breath and see the world in order to be healthy and active. Besides, I think I would resent a project or schedule that prevented me from doing those kinds of things.

But I have not been as motivated or focused as I was a couple weeks ago. I lost some of my momentum, and I want it back. I procrastinated far too much, doing things like re-watching an entire season of a TV show and messing with my aquarium. I've even stopped writing to go clean my house or do dishes! What?!

There are lots of things to blame. I'm back on my ridiculous summer schedule at work, where some days I work super early and some days I stay super late. I need my beauty sleep like nothing else, I'm one of these 9-hour-a-night freaks. I've been distracted by worrying about stupid interpersonal crap in several areas of my life. And let's face it, the first season of Glee is simply addicting. Not to mention that Bleach is on Netflix now (I'm such a dork).

It isn't that I don't want to write or that I don't enjoy it. I really really do. It is an escape, it is fun, and I feel accomplished when I get it done. It is completely different from what I do with most of my time and energy. But all this other stuff is exhausting, and writing is hard work. It takes attention to do it well, and I don't like to do things poorly. My mind tends to keep coming back to things like a dog worrying a bone or a kid poking a loose tooth, and it can't do that while I'm writing.

I think every writer struggles with this in some way, because I've heard lots of advice. Pick a place, pick a time, use a timer, reward yourself with whatever it is that you are procrastinating for, set a goal, all the same stuff I heard in college that was supposed to help me study. Not so helpful then, not so helpful now. These things just change what I'm procrastinating from - I'm a slightly neurotic and very creative procrastinator.

What is helpful for me is "cleansing my palate." Do something to stop me thinking about whatever I'm obsessing over. It can't be a TV show, movie, or novel, I just end up obsessing over that story rather than my own. Band works well, if band doesn't involve interpersonal crap, but band isn't every night. But the solution is still music - earbuds in, House of Heroes or FM Static playing, hands doing something menial. That's what helps me get into my writing zone.

I just need to remember that... and get enough sleep.

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