The lure is there. The struggle to resist is real. The submission is simply inevitable.
We have all fallen victim to procrastination. I know as a writer I can sit down to research a certain topic and end up on eBay buying a pair of Frankie B’s that I really don’t need (and when I say really, I mean I already have six pairs in my closest!). However, I am a huge advocate of working with who you are that day. Some days I can look at my research book and swear I am physically repulsed by the thought of having to read that much print. No big deal, saved by the grace of Google and blessed be those short, scientific, factual articles at my fingertips. In fact, I find that this can sometimes be used to your advantage. Having basic facts can jumpstart your imagination and encourage the blazing of a new trail. Beats polishing up the one everyone else has walked with some shiny details of your own. The only downfall is the temptation to wiggle away from work with such easy access to unrelated fun. So how can you make your “slip up” work for you? Got caught browsing Pinterest instead of articles on Tesla? No problem, here are some checkpoints and twists to get through those research rough days (and with a little imagination, this can be advice for anyone who procrastinates):
Browsing clothing trends. If it’s for your own closet, tisk-tisk my little pen fairy. Rearrange your focus. Browsing for a visual on an outfit for a character? Do it! Happen to just fall in love with the character’s outfit? Buying it wouldn’t be bad if you swear that it’ll help you describe how it feels to move or live or dance in such an outfit.
As weird as this may sound having gone to school for professional makeup and special effects, I was never particularly interested in beauty. When I decided to have one of my characters, Lillian, own an apothecary shop, I knew it meant lots of books on herbal and natural remedies. Some would need to appeal to a modern reader. This meant affordable, out-of-the-cabinet recipe building, even if for one sentence that could never support all the research required to create it (more on that backstory journey later, but writer’s totally know what I’m getting at). Reading a book without picture samples, written in the seventies, with used and questionable pages didn’t exactly sound appealing. Pinterest was a savior! Tons of tried and tested and generations-old beauty regimes to look into. Thanks to Lillian, I now have an amazing natural facial scrub that has cleared my imperfect skin, a hair soak that encourages hair growth, and a multitude of great home remedies for sicknesses and injuries.
Instagram. Stalking your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s page is getting OLD isn’t it? Celebrities aren’t your real friends, they do not need you specifically to check up on them every day, trust me. However, it is a great way to quickly find some beautiful photographs for setting inspiration. It can also be a hub for quick quotes that can inspire you to expand on the bigger topics of your plot (such as your character’s opinion on love, life, creation, etc). Just don’t steal them.
YouTube. Watching an hour long playlist of Taylor Swift’s music videos probably isn’t going to help you get things done. Watching educational documentaries on a research topic might. Plus, visual learning can be an incredibly efficient way for some people. I hate math and yet it will be infiltrating a big part of my plot. I watched a half hour video on Pythagoras and Sacred Geomtery….hosted by Donald Duck. See? Both pleasurable and educational!
Facebook. I honestly cannot think of any way to twist this addiction around to work for you. Unless you are randomly posting updates to test out your character’s dialogue authenticity. Checking up on what your ex-best friend from high school is doing with their lives is not productively procrastinating. So stop torturing yourself with useless information you beautifully brained being!
I’d also like to add that I personally have a hard time focusing because my brain is on rapid fire mode 100% of the day (and night). Learning how to work with it has been tough. I’ve had to let go of all those rules people I don’t know made to make me feel guilty if I broke them. Personally, writing every day because I “must” doesn’t work for me. Writing nonsense just to check it off the list is a great waste of time. I could have been learning more about whatever I can’t seem to write about. Trying to sit down and tackle big points of a layered plot when I’m wondering about what Emmy thinks about Cutter’s nonchalance isn’t going to be helpful. Comparing a Leo’s personality with an Aquarius will (thanks, Pinterest). Lastly, I live by the mantra, “What’s Above is Below, and what’s within is also without.” I must keep my body as active as my brain to assimilate some sort of balance and continue forward. If my brain is going to work hard, so is my body. I’m usually working out at the gym four to five days a week simply to keep myself focused. The physical activity really helps drive down the pace in my head to a point where I can focus more efficiently. Plus, it makes me feel like a superhero. Who doesn’t want that?!
This blog has been a total tactic of procrastination. I am staring at seven books spread out by my feet. Tears are forming. Loose notes need to be organized. Facts need to be recorded in one spiral notebook. But hey, at least I’ve got my warm up writing done and perhaps I’ve helped some of my fellow creative side trackers along the way.
We are perfectly imperfect. Take a whimsical approach to your situation. Always remember that if you truly desire to get anything done, it will happen at the exact moment it’s supposed to.