Friday, May 8, 2015

Procrastination: Good or Bad?

Right now I am writing this blog post way past my bedtime. I should have written it earlier, but I’ve been spending the day playing and procrastinating on getting this done. This type of procrastination isn’t new to me. In the last few weeks I haven’t been getting much writing done because I’ve been procrastinating. But as much as I don’t like procrastinating, sometime it has its value.

Sometimes procrastinating can be telling you something you need to know. You might be procrastinating because there is something missing or incomplete about the project you are working on. Something that needs to be fixed.

Recently, this happened to me. I’ve been working on a story for a while, but I just couldn’t get into the characters. I couldn’t tell what the reason was, but I just couldn’t find myself caring if the hero and heroine ended up together (not a good sign—if I don’t care, how could my readers?). Frustrated, I spent all weekend binge watching an old television show on Amazon Prime, instead of working on my current project. Somewhere around episode twenty seven it suddenly occurred to me that the reason I didn’t care about my hero is because he didn’t have enough conflict, he hadn’t overcome enough to make me believe in him. Then at episode thirty three I realized the conflict a side character in the show was going through was very similar to what my hero needed to experience. I’m sure you can see where it went from there. I finished all five seasons and finally got some real words down on my new project. This story took on a new life it probably never would have if I hadn’t taken the weekend off to procrastinate and watch TV, instead of writing. And to me, that’s time well spent.

So if you find yourself procrastinating on a task you want to do, there might be a very good reason for it. Take a look at what you’re working on, really try to see if there is a problem or hole in the project that is stopping you up. Maybe stepping away and resting a bit will give you a new prospective you need to help you see what you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. If you can, try focusing your energy on something else, especially something physical. I always find I get great ideas while driving or in the shower, when my physical body is occupied but my mind can wander (I don’t know why, but I always get phenomenal ideas in the shower, which is the worst place to get them, seeing as how you can’t write anything down without it getting soaked). Taking a break and giving your mind and body time to recharge sometimes came be exactly what you need to get back in the swing of that creative spirit.

We often vilify procrastination, because we always want to be producing, always moving forward. But sometimes we need some time to sit in the quiet, to refresh and recharge, to do the best job we can. And feeling guilty or angry about take that time, but even though it’s easy to feel that way, I’m resolved not to do it again. Because I know giving myself a break is just as important as forcing my butt into that chair to get my word count each day, for my stories and for my sanity. I proved it just this weekend.

Are any of you procrastinating? Maybe some of you are doing it right now my reading this blog. If so, I say, good for you. Take a moment, recharge your batteries and then get back at it. I know I’ll be doing the same. Once I finish this season of Teen Mom J


Tina Donahue said...

Great post, Willa. I find watching my fave programs (Suits, The Following, Nashville, etc.) often gives me great ideas on plotting/conflict/romantic tension, etc.

Gets those juices flowing. :)

jean hart stewart said...

This hit the spot... I usually don't procrastinate, but recently did that on a book I knew wasn't quite right. two days ago it all fell into place and I'm over the hump..