Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Word Count Wednesday Obstacle: Procrastination
Procrastination. I know why I do it. I certainly know how to do it (let me count the ways!) I know the reasons behind it -- or I thought I did.

Since I wanted to use facts to make this blog topic relevant to my fellow procrastinators, I pulled the file of articles I've collected on the subject, only to find that the piece I wanted wasn't in the file. So I did an Internet search and came up with a different article from the same source ("Procrastination: Ten Things to Know"), expecting to nod along with all ten descriptors.

Only I didn't.

So I went back to my web search and found a quiz, which, of course, I took. Halfway through the quiz, I started to feel better. I mean, it didn't take a clinical psychologist to figure out which descriptors indicated serious procrastination, and they truly didn't describe me. I don't save my Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve. I don't actively look for distractions. I didn't fit the descriptions for any of the three types of procrastinators. And I absolutely believe that my procrastination is part of a time management problem, something the article says is not the case. So, by the end of the quiz, I wasn't surprised to find that I didn't fall as high on the procrastination scale as I thought I might:

According to your results, you are somewhat of a procrastinator. Your score indicates that you either procrastinate significantly in a specific area (or areas) of your life, or are a moderate procrastinator overall. Whatever the case may be, this can become a serious problem.
Huh. Y'know, that's actually accurate. I procrastinate significantly when it comes to things I don't like to do (but I think that's called human nature, not procrastination). Unfortunately, I sometimes also have trouble getting started on the things I do enjoy.

The more time I have on my hands, the worse I am at getting started. When the clock is ticking, I make myself work. And before you start nodding knowingly, let me assure you that I am absolutely not motivated by a time crunch. Time crunches stress me out, and almost always lead to mistakes, so I don't do my best work under tight deadlines.

Yet it seems I need a deadline of some kind to take a task seriously. When company's coming, I clean my house. When I am teaching a class, I plan my lessons. When an editor wants a piece by a certain date, I get it written.

But when I have what feels like endless time at my disposal…that's how much time I take. Just to get started.

Which brings me to Word Count Wednesday. Early in the "week" (last Wednesday up to and including today), the deadline loomed, nudging me toward my laptop. It helped that my students are doing presentations this week, so my class preparations required less time than usual, leaving me more time to write. I composed the usual blogs and revised an article for submission, though I was a little disappointed that all those article words didn't "count" because I'd written them several years ago.

And then it was Wednesday.

Instead of celebrating the words I'd written and jumping online to report my success, I eased into the day. I checked email. I read. I visited Facebook (always a mistake when a deadline is looming). I practiced self-flagellation in the form of comparing my output to that of a fellow writer under deadline who'd written an insane number of words in one day, a number that made my measly output feel very insignificant indeed.

Finally, I began the article that I'd decided to work on today. And, as usual, it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd made it. Once I got started, I made progress bit by bit. I fought the urge to bolt from my chair when the words went into seclusion. I stayed off the Internet (mostly).

And I put close to 1000 words on the page.

The article isn't finished, but the first draft is in good shape -- for a first draft anyway. And, as I tell my students, it's easier to edit a rough draft than a blank screen. (That's conventional writer wisdom that I've heard from numerous sources, not Lisa wisdom, if, indeed, there is such a thing).
And so now, with this blog completed, my Word Count Wednesday (W-W) total is 2932.

The new week starts tomorrow, and I have no doubt it will bring all sorts of new challenges, distractions and ways to procrastinate. But I am strong. I am invincible.

I am writer.

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