Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Word A Day Keeps Procrastination Away

"You mean you sit around and write all day? Is that even a real job?"

Wow misconceptions can be amusing, don't you agree?

For a while I avoided discussing what I did during the day with people. Some do not understand that writing is a real profession and requires real dedication. Even I had some idea of that when I decided to dive head first into the undertaking.

However I now am not sure I truly realized just how demanding of a job it can be. Do not get me wrong, I love it! But I have felt overwhelmed at times.

You have to really work at it to bring home any bacon when starting out. You are entering into a world of scrutiny and, at times, biased attitudes. It is very intimidating for someone "new," such as myself, who is trying to break in with little or no credit to their name. But I have found one tool extremely helpful.

What tool you ask? Is it some new software that writes for you? Some kind of editing program? Maybe a service that coaches you along? Nope.

My favorite tool is a schedule. However you decide to plan your days is up to you, jot notes down on a calendar, keep a day planner or simply make a "to do" list. No matter which you prefer, it is one of the most valuable tools at your disposal.

I admit I am still learning much but I have found that you can not achieve anything if you do not get things done. And I think we all know our faults. I am not among the rare few who can hop out of bed early each morning, alert and ready to work, who knows exactly what needs to be done and gets right to it.

I don't like to get out of bed early, I don't always feel like writing. My mind wanders and things distract me. Entertaining and easier tasks tend to be the most attractive and get done first while the harder more taxing ones get pushed to the side and accumulate. Scheduling prevents this.

If you ask me, just take it one day at a time. Every morning I write out my to do list. If I feel particularly overburdened I may also write one for the following day, jotting down my "overflow" tasks.

I try to break things up a bit too. Obviously items with a hard deadline are top priority. Other writing tasks or more mundane tasks I use as flexible space fillers. I still get them done, but I make sure the important items are not overlooked.

This does a lot more than make me feel productive. I find that I have learned a lot about time required to accomplish certain writing-related things. Such as roughly how long would it take me to write an article that is X number of words. Or how long does it take for me to do enough research necessary to obtain information on a topic. Yes, this always varies. Some projects are far more involved than others, however this gives me a starting point. And it makes my planning more efficient. I will know if an hour is not enough time or if three hours is way too much.

It also keeps me writing. By following my list I am forcing myself to exercise my mind and my words per minute, because inevitably I must do what is on my list. It is also a stress reliever, knowing that any tasks containing deadlines get done right away. I no longer have the anxiety that comes with procrastination.

Everyone's situation is different. In my case, I am planning a wedding and taking care of my household while honing my writing skills and searching for freelance jobs. Oh and working on editing and querying my novel as well. I still feel overwhelmed at times, but it's minimal and easy to deal with since I began using "to do" lists. It does not have to be anything fancy either, I just jot down a list on a scrap paper, mark the priority items and cross them off as I complete them.

So for the time being I feel I have beaten another deadly foe in the game of writing.
Bring it on Procrastination!
Do your worst