A Writing Biography, Volume II, Part 3: Procrastination

There could be epic poems written about the concept of procrastination. Despite my best efforts, I would not classify myself as a poet. So, this will be about the best effort to do this that I can muster.

I have been an expert at wasting time for as long as I can remember. My natural state is to be at rest, and now in my 40’s, I have the physique that indicates that. But exactly what distracts me is a little harder to place.

What I have found is that I don’t believe that there has been any one distraction that has kept me away from writing. Anything that has distracted me from writing, has also distracted me from other opportunities as well.

Those distractions, as I’ve said, have been varied and changed over time. Reading and movies have been big time sinks over time, but I also sincerely believe that reading is necessary for a writer to help develop their vocabulary and tools. Video games used to be a big time sink, but has faded over time. Right now the biggest game I wind up playing is Football Manager on my mobile phone.

Here’s the question that’s been lingering around my head for, what, 10 years or so?

Am I an inherently lazy person?

Whenever I think about that, it reminds me of job interviews where they ask you to mention what you consider to be your weaknesses. Who ever wants to be considered lazy? Isn’t that supposed to be a sin, Christian or secular, in this world?

Not to stray too far away from writing here, but I think this fear about being called lazy fits into the American dogma of how individuals can always improve and better themselves through hard work alone, no matter what the circumstances. As for me, I have seen enough science fiction and current events to ponder what the advent of artificial intelligence and the Singularity will do to this culture. I believe that it will leave a lot of people in the world, much less America, out of sorts.

How do you change procrastination (or being lazy, if you’d prefer that term)? For most people who can’t afford extensive counseling or life coaches like a Tony Robbins, I think the only answer to that is very slowly. Sometimes you just grow out of certain behaviors, like what has happened in recent years with the author Tucker Max.

For me, the situation has become more that I’ve gotten tired of not accomplishing anything. I’ve gotten tired of talking about being a writer and not actually writing. The whole point of this blog has been not to showcase the brilliance of my writing (it might do that someday), but to get me into the daily mode of being a writer. Have I fully accomplished this? Not at all. Maybe I’ll never fully accomplish it, whatever that means. But I am getting better.

[NOTE: Doing this forced me to pull out some of my old journals, etc. I may have to do a few posts regarding what I wrote in recent years.]

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Writing Journal 11.27.2017: Holding the line, but not satisfied with the minimum

Well, I had gone into the holiday weekend with many expectations of having a great stretch of writing. What I wound up with is something that was not disastrous, but not amazing, either.

The stats:

+3,769 words written.

Days writing: 7 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 6 out of 7 days.

If I had put out those type of numbers, with that type of consistency, three or even two months ago, I would have been perfectly happy with them. Now, seeing those numbers, knowing that I wrote them during a week where I spent half of it on vacation, I’m a bit let down. I know that I could have easily hit anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 words this week without much effort.

On the other hand, I feel good about feeling bad. I’m starting to demand more from myself from my writing. I’m beginning to want to raise my standards. And, that’s a good thing.

What would I blame all of this on? In a word, procrastination – or, at least, a flare-up of it. I wanted to get into talking a little about that, so I’ll make it the subject of the next blog.

 

More later.

Random Notes

Random notes, random image of the hometown… just randomness.

In the order of importance/or when they fly through my head:

1. As I mentioned, writing fell off at the end of the week but was relatively steady. One of the issues is that my computer had a crash that took it a few hours to get over.

2. I’m tending to repeat myself today.

3. I finally got the first two query letters out yesterday. I felt very good about it, especially now that I have a basic format I can adapt and use for those queries. I’ve also started a list of agents and publishers I have queried and update information on them. I realize that I am going to have to send out dozens and dozens to make an effective run at publishing, but it’s definitely a start.
As I’ve said before, I want to publish this thing one way or another by next year, whether that’s the “traditional” route or through Amazon or something. Now, at least, I’m starting to take baby steps toward that.

4. I’ve got two good ideas for new entries the following week, one on the amount of writing that writers find they have and one on my lifelong battle with procrastination in writing. I might even be about to get both of those out this week.

5. And speaking of this week, it is Thanksgiving week, which means time off from work… and more glorious time to write. I’ve felt that my feelings toward writing have changed in recent weeks and months, and looking forward to the writing process is one of those differences.

6. Plus… hey, let me reach out to the people who are reading this – what else would you be interested in hearing about? Excerpts from my fiction, or the little bit of poetry I’ve done over time? Would you be interested in hearing me review some books? Or maybe, you’d love to see something else? Please feel free to let me know in the comments, if you feel the urge, or DM me through the regular channels.

More later. Thanks, everyone.

 

Writing Journal, 11.19.2017: A victim of circumstances, but still a decent effort

OK. Overall, not the best week, but a better week than two weeks ago.

The totals:

+2,938 words written.

Days writing:  6 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 5 out of 7 days.

Underperformed expectations, but part of it was that I had a computer crash last night and my computer took all night to run diagnostics to figure out what was up. (It’s up and running now). I am liking my consistency but not my output. This Thanksgiving break will get me ahead of the game, I am hoping.

 

Something’s growing.

It’s been an interesting month. The writing is coming to me easier now. I am finding a consistency that I never had before with writing.

What this is feeling like is different that what I’ve had before. I could let hours while away without ever thinking about trying to move forward on the libraries of books I’d written in my head. Never mind that, I could go for years without it. I don’t know how many video games and movies I occupied myself with in those years, saying that I was a writer and not doing anything about it.

Now, I get antsy when I stay away from my writing. The maximum I have not written has been two straight days ever since I started this blog. Although I am certainly not the same physical specimen I was as a kid or young adult, I think my mind and my writing talent are sharper than they have ever been.

Whether I’m going to be a published writer now or in the future is something I’m not yet clear on. However, I don’t feel like it’s a joke anymore when I call myself a writer.

Later, everyone.

Writing Journal, 11.12.2017: Pushing the 5,000 word-barrier

This was a bit of a week. There were a couple of slow days and a very productive weekend. The results of the past week are below:

+4,959 words written.

Days writing: 6 out of 7.

Daily writing goals met (500+ words): 5 out of 7 days.

Even with the two sub-par days, I got that close to writing 5,000 words in a single week. Now for the NaNoWriMo warriors this month, they’re pumping out close to 12,000 words per week to get their quota in, so maybe they wouldn’t be impressed.

But for me, Mr. Inconsistency for so many years? Pumping out close to 5,000 words without  breaking much of a sweat? That’s another thing entirely. It’s a good feeling.

The Road Ahead

“When you don’t have something interesting to write about, write something, even if it is boring.” I might have just as easily heard that quote somewhere as made it up myself, but I’m going ahead with the idea.

Yeah, it’s going to be one of those posts.

So, let’s try for starters…. Random Thoughts! OK:

  1. My Facebook feed is getting clogged up with writer’s group posts (good; it waters down all of the political posts) and many of the writers are making political/religious posts (not so good). Do you know you can opt out of notifications of posts you have made or contributed to? It’s a cool way to get your life back. Also, did you know I’ve got a writing Facebook page? Feel free to visit it, although I do have the feed on the sidebar.
  2. I’m going to make an effort to send out or put together at least one query letter tonight. My goal is one letter per week. I have already put together a general letter; all I need to do is rework it for the intended audience. Doing the grunt work like that can be hard.
  3. I am going to get something written tonight. If all goes well (and even if it doesn’t go the best), I am planning to breach the 60,000-word mark tonight.
  4. As for the title of the post… I’ve been doing the math. All of the genres I would conceivably write in would call for manuscripts of around 80,000 to 100,000 words.

    Now let’s do the math together. I am shooting for a minimum of 500 words per day of writing. That is about 3,500 words per week if I am working every day. Let’s further say that I am not as ambitious as that goal. Let us say, for example, that I wind up in 2018 with a per-day average of 300 words. However, that is still formidable. You want to know why? Because if you divide 100,000 words by 300, you realize that you could complete a 100,000-word novel, even at this glacial pace, in 334 days. If I did manage to keep to my basic minimums, averaging 3,500 words per week, I’d have a 100K first draft novel ready in just 200 days.

    When I saw those numbers, people, it took my breath away. After years of screwing around, not getting on with my writing, I seem to have a road forward. For your information, I have only missed the 300-word rate (about 2,100 words per week) four times during the 18-week stretch that I have been monitoring my word count. The last time that happened was in mid-October, and that was the only time it’s happened since August.

    For the first time in my life, I have a consistently working writing instrument. It’s a good feeling to have.