Beyond the Procrastination Hurdle and Into Excitement

There are days when the daunting task of writing the next chapter or the next scene looms larger than the cliffs of Dover. I set my starting time for writing, the moment comes and goes, and Scrivener is still firmly closed. In fact, the more I write, the more I come to the conclusion that I better get used to the procrastination hurdle, because it is simply there. Maybe it's time for that second cup of coffee? (It always is.) Or maybe I need to click on my e-mail inbox a few more times to see if any news has come in. (Apart from the latest spam? Not really) But I have also found strategies that help me get to that first sentence faster and with more joy than before, and I stick to them with vigilance.

The first strategy is so obvious, it's ridiculous how long it took me to impart it:

Disconnect from the internet and silence your phone!

I shut down my e-mail page, facebook page and skype, so I don't get tempted to answer when one of my nieces wants to chat. And my phone needs to be silent because all those alerts - facebook, twitter, e-mail, test message - make different sounds that pull me out of my story. This has obviously been discussed in various books on writing. But reading about it in a book and actually taking the step to withdraw from the world this way are two very different things. I do stay connected to my online dictionary - English being my second language, words sometimes elude me, and it's easier and quicker to jump start my mind with the use of this tool. I have it bookmarked prominently.

The second strategy was a bit less obvious to me, but it came up in two separate books on writing, and so I went ahead and tried it:

Connect to your creative joy, to the spark, the delight in the creative process.

Rachel Aaron writes about psyching yourself out about the scene you are going to tackle before you hit your first key stroke in her thoroughly helpful book 2k to 10k: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love. Having spent over two years on writing and rewriting my book I can relate to that. I must have rewritten some of the plot points in my novel about fifteen times, so it gets harder and harder to be excited about writing the same scenario AGAIN, only better.
(I'm far from done. My third page-one rewrite draws to a close, hopefully by the end of this week, and then I have to start editing the thing and basically find out if my new draft is just a pile of garbage or worth spending another couple of months on. So yeah, I need every ounce of "psyched-out-ness" I can get.)

Brooke Warner, in What's Your Book? A Step-by-Step Guide to Get You from Inspiration to Published Author describes a quick meditation before you start writing that I have adapted for my purposes: I visualize  holding a crackling ball of pure, joyful creative energy in the palm of my left hand. In my right hand I hold the weight of "I have to write". As I envision spinning that fireball of creativity in my left palm, the pull of "Obligation" in my right loses some of its weight. This is the essence of Brooke Warner's meditation, not verbatim, but you get the idea. I added an end bit, in which I toss the fireball up in the air and let the drops of creativity shower down on me. It makes me smile every time, and the whole thing takes maybe 30 seconds.

Over the years I have learned that procrastination is not going anywhere. It's part of the deal, the pull away from the page the minute I sit down to it. The question is not so much how to avoid it, but how to deal with and get past it.

 What are some of your strategies to get over the hump of procrastination? Do you have to do the dishes first? Empty the litter box? Water the plants? Or do you not suffer from this affliction at all? In which case I say: Congratulations! And how do you do that?

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