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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

PROCRASTINATION

"Procrastination is the thief of time." Edward Young 1683-1765

OK, I titled this with that nasty word. PROCRASTINATION. One of the enemies of every writer.
Something that we all must overcome. And it ain't easy!

I could win awards for procrastinating. Once I let myself stray off my routines, it takes me days to get back on again. I'm a master at finding other things to do. Distractions surround me. I lose all sense of discipline. Actually, the truth is I've been very busy with other tasks, which include teaching classes (writing classes), so I'm not too far off track. But finding time to get myself back into the world of my novel after I've been away from it a few days, requires some concentration.

I keep a calander up on the wall beside my computer. I mark on it every bit of time each day I spend on writing or writing related activities. This is one way I have of helping me stay focused. If I start seeing too many blanks, I know I've got to get back into the routine again.
Going away for a weekend like I did when I went to the island with my writer's group, got me off my routines for a few days. By this past weekend I hadn't spent much time on my novel and I knew I had to get back into it or I'd never finish the chapter I had been so diligently working on. But I kept finding things to distract me, procrastinations...little tasks like cleaning drawers or sorting out papers, doing crosswords, (even writing blogs!)
Til finally I knew I had to buckle down. So I did. And once I got back into Alexander's world again, I forgot all those other things there were to do and made myself stay at the computer (stop checking e-mail, wait til late at night to read friend's blogs, limit the number of solitaire games and crosswords I do -- which I usually like to do just to quiet my mind.)
And, this afternoon I finished another chapter of my novel. Tomorrow I will begin the next.
Maybe by the time I leave for my vacation I'll have completed another part and will be that much closer to the end.

"Lost time is never found again" Benjamin Franklin 1706--1790

Each month, on my calendar, I make three small goals for myself. This month's goals are:
Finish Part IV of Shadow
Send out more travel articles
Write more travel articles

So far (and it's only May 9) I've come one big step closer to finishing Part IV. I've sent out a couple more travel articles. (Today I learned that one I'd sent a few months ago is going to be published soon, and another editor requested I resend her a story about Marrakech.)
I spent some of my writing time today sending out queries about stories I'd marketed 2 months ago. Last Thursday I wrote a new article and Saturday I did some research for it on the internet so I can add to it and get it sent off.

Sometimes you have to let yourself spend a bit of time procrastinating. The trick is to know when to stop and get down to business. And once you do, it's surprising how much you can accomplish!

"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend."
Theophrastus 278 BC ( from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers bk V, sec 40)




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