ACW

ACW

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The art of procrastination by Claire Musters



Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
That extra cup of tea, finishing one last chapter of a book we’re reading, walking around the garden admiring the flowers, deciding a cupboard needs a sort out or a room has to be deep-cleaned right now…


Why is it that each of the above can have added allure when we are supposed to be getting on with our work in progress?

Procrastination seems to be something that affects most writers: a glance at the conversations on the ACW Facebook page reveals many of us talking about all the chores we are doing instead of writing – or the cups of tea and cheesecake we are about to enjoy ;)

I’m what I would describe as a ‘jobbing writer’. Most of my work revolves around commissioned articles, Bible study notes and what I would call ‘study guide books’. I’ve also always had a really determined, organised sense of drive regarding my work. So whatever editing or writing has needed to be done has been the priority and I’ve not allowed myself to be distracted by all the things that surround in my home (as that’s where I work from).

I will go so far as to admit to sometimes not being able to relate too well to how other people are struggling with procrastination. However the pull of procrastination has hit me big time in recent weeks. You see, I’m trying to work on my next book in between other (paid) writing jobs but there is something about it that makes it so much harder. It is the book that I’ve longed to write for years – and that is probably why every revision and every time I am about to go back to look at it I have to work up to it for a little while.

In all honesty I suppose I’m scared – of not being able to convey what I want to; of not getting it into a format that will interest publishers; of not being able to finish it. Fortunately I had a really productive day with the project yesterday – but it took me a good few hours to get into it.

I’ve always viewed procrastination as the enemy: I fit my work into my kids’ school hours so any wasting of time is seen as negative and unnecessary. However, writing from the heart involves so much soul searching, so much wrestling, that perhaps we need that little period of procrastination to gear ourselves up to the next writing session.

Maybe I’m just embracing more procrastination because of where I’m currently at, or perhaps my eyes have been opened to how a little bit of procrastination can be a good thing (especially if it involves cheesecake!).

Claire is a freelance writer and editor, mum to two gorgeous young children, pastor’s wife, worship leader and school governor. Claire’s desire is to help others draw closer to God through her writing, which focuses on marriage, parenting, worship, discipleship, issues facing women today etc. Her books include Taking your Spiritual Pulse, CWR’s Insight Guide: Managing Conflict and BRF Foundations21 study guides on Prayer and Jesus. She also writes a regular column for Christian Today as well as Bible study notes. To find out more about her, please visit www.clairemusters.com and @CMusters on Twitter.

7 comments:

  1. Amen and Amen and Amen . I'm reading your blog instead of planning my work or writing my next blog now we're back from holiday. . Lord have mercy. I have one hour before lunch. Help me to use it aright!

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  2. My comment disappeared when I pressed publish! Re-writing it . I am with you Claire, I have wondered why so many comments are made on procrastination: when my housework needs doing, it needs doing, no doubt about whether it is merely a way not to be writing! Now I am in a similar place to you: stuck and not getting on with the next book. But, is this procrastination? I am worried that it may not be whatI should be doing, afraid it will not succeed, and concerned that maybe I need to re-think the whole project before I commit anything to actual 'writing' . So I'm going round on the spot, getting nowhere. In fact, avoiding procrastination by not trying to work on writing a novel, until I know it is the right one, and is worth spending the time on rather than doing all the jobs around the house, etc.

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  3. I'm with you Claire about procrastination: I have always wondered why people talk about this so much. Especially because if my housework/shopping/etc needs to be done, it needs to be done. Now I'm in a difficult situation, full of doubts about whether doing the next novel is really worth it, really what I should be doing, and so for the first time, I am doing what could be called 'procrastination'. I suspect that like you I am a bit afraid of plunging in, and then realising that the project is a either a waste of time or needs some alterations in the original vision.

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  4. I'm with you Claire about procrastination: I have always wondered why people talk about this so much. Especially because if my housework/shopping/etc needs to be done, it needs to be done. Now I'm in a difficult situation, full of doubts about whether doing the next novel is really worth it, really what I should be doing, and so for the first time, I am doing what could be called 'procrastination'. I suspect that like you I am a bit afraid of plunging in, and then realising that the project is a either a waste of time or needs some alterations in the original vision.

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  5. Agree with the others - amen! But I think also you've hit on something that I can relate to. I have no procrastination when it comes to the writing we both do - the jobbing writer stuff of Bible reading notes and other that we both love to do. But I put off writing this first 'real' book for years. Seven I think! I didn't have a hard deadline, for one, as it wasn't commissioned. And then all the fears as you mentioned would rear their heads, which has a way of strangulating the process. My best advice is to try to get a deadline for yourself that holds weight - internal deadlines don't seem to have as much sway; at least they didn't for me. If it's not for a publisher, then you could, say, set a date that you're going to get X number of chapters out to your reader reviewers. I've found that the only way I seem to be able to press through the vulnerability factor is through external measures such as deadlines...

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  6. I think you're absolutely right. I procrastinate far more on projects I fear will never see the light of day. I think I'm putting off that awful moment when someone says, 'What on earth made you think anyone would enjoy this?' On the other hand, if someone gives me a deadline, I will never be late.

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  7. I agree that procrastination can sometime be helpful for the creative process. I think it's when I'm doing something mindless that ideas or words/phrases pop into my head. Great post :)

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