Putting the ‘Pro’ in Procrastination

Time Proven Techniques Guaranteed To Extend Project Timelines Indefinitely

Broken Pencil

Photo credit: colemama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I’ve got to tell you, being today’s guest blogger has me feeling a lot like Doctor Doofenshmirtz. “You cannot stop me, Perry the Platypus. Behold the Procrastinator, with it I shall take over the Tri-State Area!” Trust me, if you have kids that watch Disney, I just made perfect sense and created an ideal segue into today’s topic: procrastination.

It’s not as easy as it seems. Since anything worth doing is worth doing well, it behooves the professional writer to identify, practice, and perfect opportunities to slow headlong, forward progress to a more reflective pace, manage client expectations by avoiding the stigma of finishing early, and create additional time through clever and consistent extension of project timelines. Proper procrastination can take a great deal of work and planning if you are not prepared. Let’s jump right in!

Don’t Succumb to Stress

One of the traps that exuberant young writers often fall prey to is the grinding stress of deadline pressures. The truly sad thing is most of these so-called “deadlines” are entirely self-imposed. Don’t be a victim: be smart! Goals are absolutely the worst thing for producing massive amounts of stress. Goals are rigid and hamper the free flow of creative thinking. Goals are inflexible, blocking the artistic need for change by demanding a concrete adherence to an arbitrary limitation. Worst of all, goals create accountability and require consistency. Once accountability is in place, you may discover your friends withholding approval until your deadlines are met. Never fear, though. Should this happen, it will necessitate a search for a more relaxed peer group, pushing deadlines further back while you recreate a more peaceful and artistic atmosphere.

The Art of the Double Up

This technique is incredibly effective and can be used as a key component in reducing your stress, and by extension, in releasing your creativity. Often times, word count deficit writers can find themselves in situations where time has crept up on them, or the priorities of others intrude, or frankly something “better” has come along. Don’t let these opportunities be lost in a quest to grind out a word count. That’s a goal, and goals, as we know, produce stress. The genius of this technique lies in it’s mathematical simplicity; take care of what is clamoring to be taken care of today (especially if it’s “something better”), and double up on your word count tomorrow! This way, you relieve the stress of missing your overall word counts and have your own commitment to reaching them tomorrow, plus you can still go out and party tonight!

Famil-ME Time

One detrimental piece of advice often foisted off on writers is the myth that they require “alone” time and “solitude” in order to write. Viewed logically, a reasonable person can see how utterly self-serving that statement is. This is particularly true of writers with families, doubly true if said families have children. As a member of a family, you have an obligation to make time for your fellow family members. If a loaf of bread or a gallon of milk is needed, or a child needs transportation to an alternative location, it is rather your duty to pitch in and help. Your family, however it may be constructed, depends on you in order to continue and to thrive. Don’t be selfish with your time! After all, if you feel you need “Me” time, consider the only “Me” you really need is “Famil-ME”.

The One-Eyed Monster

Television programming is by far the number one way to prolong “Famil-ME” time. With the advent of high-speed, broadband cable programming, the number of options available is very nearly limitless. “Reality” programming is particularly addictive. You can watch hours of it in a sitting. As a bonus, you don’t have to retain the actions of a previous program because it will be repeated in a subsequent one. You can literally turn off your mind and flow in the zen-like numbing frequently associated with white noise. It’s a perfect place to recharge! However, this must be done in moderation. Some programming, particularly that on the major networks and specifically in situational comedies, can be dreadfully written, leading the aspiring writer towards the slippery slope of “I can do better than that!” Beware that feeling, lest it motive you into an early termination of your restful recharge.

Building a Brand

Don’t despair if said situational comedy unduly excites your creative energies. Put all that drive and zeal into building your brand through the magic of social networking! Feel the thrill of Facebooking, the ephemeral rush of a Twitter feed, and the soaring connectedness of a Google Hangout. You have more choices to reach potential readers than there are hours in the day! Pinterest, Klout, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, LinkedIn: the list goes on and on. We all know connecting with these potential readers is vital! But, they are savvy, you can’t just throw “Buy Me” at them. You have to take the time and build the relationships. After all, what good is having a finished work if you don’t have an audience of friends to sell it to? However, if that writerly feeling just won’t leave you alone, I’ve saved the best and most effective technique for last.

You Really *Don’t* Have Anything To Say Anyway

If you have low self esteem or image issues, treasure them, and hold fast to them. They can be critical in derailing a determined motivation to finish. The key is to focus on your own insignificance and dwell on your past failures. Another good technique is the passive aggressive envy of successful writers. After all, they have the share of the market that should have been yours, so your failure is due specifically to and diametrically linked to their success; the more success you see in others, the less you can see in yourself. You can also dramatically lower your word count by wallowing in that spite, and in the self-loathing that comes from knowing that you’ll never amount to much of anything anyway.

That’s it, the fundamentals of winning procrastination! Practice these techniques daily until they become second nature. With enough time and determination, you can absolutely halt your writing with no effort at all!

If these techniques don’t feel right to you, fret not! There are many other proven techniques that can be equally effective given the right circumstances, for example; the “Butt Not In Chair”, the “This Story Has Been Told Before”, and the “Must Be Writer’s Block.” This list is not exhaustive, but I am and I’m too close to my word count goal for the day to continue, so I’m out. See, I’m recognizing my limitations! Good luck fellow writers!


PEllisPaul Ellis is an amateur author and podcaster, and founding member of Wordsmith Studio.


1 comment for “Putting the ‘Pro’ in Procrastination

  1. July 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Oh, this is hilarious, Paul, and so true! I’m a master. Terrific post! You should bring us more here at WS.

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