The Art of Procrastination
by Rodney Carlstrom
Procrastination = Death:
Granted, the video above is hyperbole; a slippery slope on the topic, but procrastination is still a malady suffered by the majority of the world's population. Although I could point fingers, and blame certain aspects of today's culture for procrastination's rise in popularity, it's something we as humans have suffered through for as long as we have been human.
Procrastinating is a serious issue, one that we often look past because we've programmed ourselves to it's presence, and because most people hate confrontation, let alone confrontation with ourselves. Sometimes it's hard to realize your own faults. Would you rather have someone who looks up to you realize your flaws, or would you rather it be you who catches your mistakes and fixes them? It's only been recently that I've come to that conclusion, and decided to wage war against this malady; a personal crusade, if you will.
This revelation came to me one evening, when scrolling through the reviews and posts on Sci-Fi Guys. I realized there were large gaps between posts. (And for those that follow Sci-Fi Guys Book Review, yes, I know, it still only has updates posted. I'm working on it!) I thought on it for a bit, and realized the reasons for these bald patches: 1.) I don't treat it like a job, 2.) I read the book, and either it failed to blow me away, or it was so good I'm afraid of writing a review that makes the title seem like it's my new favorite book. 3.) I find other things to do, instead of reading, or writing the review (i.e. writing and posting updates).
For me, 95% of the time it's reason number three. Call it lack of personal discipline, but my habitual inclination in regards to my work ethic has always been that I work best when it comes down to the last minute; when, come hell or high water, I'm burning the midnight oil to produce a final product I can turn in the next day. Although I hate pressure, it seems to be the only real way to get me to do anything. I realized that early on, and it's the only way I've done things since. However, there's a difference between doing something last minute and procrastinating past the deadline. If the former is how you work best, then by all means don't change a thing.
It's not just Sci-Fi Guys that I've noticed this with. My writing has also suffered from procrastinating. You see, just like the writer in the video above, procrastinating could very well be the death of you, before you have even started. Not a physical death mind you, but what if you procrastinated for so long that you never got around to writing that short story, or that novel you've been wanting to write since the idea first popped into your head?
Now, let's say you did write that short story or novel, and come to find out, you weren't that bad at putting words on paper and making sentences. In fact, you're so good you've been nominated for prestigous awards within your genre. Hell, let's say you only win one out of the hundreds. Wouldn't it be worth it? You can't know what you don't know. So why waste time putting it off?
For those that do find themselves procrastinating when they should be writing, or procrastinating at anything they want to see themselves succeed in, there are three rules I would suggest following:
1.) Surround yourself with successful, like-minded people. If you're able to find a group of local writers to get plugged in with, or a reading group that reads the same genres you do, then rules two and three will naturally, over time, take care of themselves. By enveloping yourself with like-minded people, you begin to slowly pick up the same kind of habits they have.
This also includes cons. Essentially you're marketing yourself; what you write is you, whether you realize it or not. Yeah, Facebook is a great tool, but there's nothing as memorable than actually meeting a fellow writer, or lover of books, in the flesh. Those kinds of encounters tend to make a bigger impression on a person than liking their current status update.
2.) Accountability. Like anything worth doing in life, sometimes you need to be kept accountable. So, find someone who will make sure that you write those one thousand words a day, or keep resubmitting the stack of homeless stories that sit collecting digi-dust on your hard drive.
Keep in contact with them. Meet up for lunch, or set aside time to sit down and talk it out. This, most of all, will help with procrastination.
3.) Treat it as a job. If you treat your writing with as much care and seriousness as your job, you won't fail as much. For those business-oriented folks, go one step further and treat it as though it were your own business.
Make a daily schedule, where you set aside time to read or write. It could be as long as it takes to reach a thousand words, or long enough to read two chapters. But regardless of what's going on in your life, make it happen.
Although these won't immediately help you flush away the impulses to procrastinate, slowly but surely your mindset will change, and you'll want success enough to actually do something.
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