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So while I was supposed to be working the other night, I instead found this book on procrastination (an older edition, however) at the library.  Jane Burka and Lenora Yuen describe the types of procrastinators, the causes of procrastination, and some tactics for overcoming the problem.

I almost felt like the authors had written the book for me when I read this paragraph on page 23 of the first edition:  "the perfectionist procrastinator usually expects more of him- or herself than is realistic. . . .  The first-time novelist wants the first draft of his writing to be of publishable quality. . . . As a result, the high standards that are intended to motivate these people toward accomplishment often become impossible standards which hinder their efforts."

Boom.

That's me.  I know I could spend more time writing than I do, but I'm often scared of my novel.  I'm afraid of the big, bad, horrible words that might come out when I sit down to write.  What if my chapter never is right?  Or if nobody ever connects with my character?  What if I do send out that novel I've worked on for five years and don't even get a "good" rejection?

Procrastination allows perfectionists like me to live in the blissful world of thinking we might be awesome writers.  Putting our butts in the chair and actually writing might prove we're not.  So we avoid the chair.

I suppose the antidote is to give ourselves permission to write "shitty first drafts" like Anne Lamott suggests.   But that's harder said than done some days.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Anonymous)
May. 14th, 2013 03:43 am (UTC)
procrastination
I used to be like this. But then Stephen King gave me permission to write a shitty first draft too, and I decided if it's good enough for Stephen... I still get stymied by worrying my writing sucks, but if you don't pause to think about it, you can really make progress. And even when I think I'm writing something awful, I usually go back and find it's not as bad as I thought. :)
-Mara
cannonwrites
May. 14th, 2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
Re: procrastination
You are right--it's never as bad as I think it's going to be. And if it is, you can always fix it, right? I hope your writing is going well!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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Andrea Ortega, Lisa Ritter Cannon, and Nikki Katz met at a SCBWI meeting about polishing YA manuscripts. Over coffee, they critique their works-in-progress and gab about motherhood. Andrea is a former bilingual teacher, Lisa teaches legal writing, and Nikki is a former rocket scientist and current blog editor/social media czar. Join them as they blog about craft.

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