There are many nasty habits in the world . . .
. . . I am guilty of one – but I couldn’t find a picture for it. I call it “justified procrastination.”
Everyone I know leads a busy life. Not once have I heard one of my friends or family members say, “You know, I really just don’t have enough to do, and I’m very frequently bored.” Even with my unemployment woes of the past six months, I have kept myself entertained and active with a variety of projects, activities, job hunting, writing, babysitting, and more. But recently, I’ve found that I’m falling into an old, nasty habit – justified procrastination. Let me explain.
JP happens when there is something you know you need to do, but you easily justify putting it off to another time. For example, I knew last week I needed to get a new chapter written in my YA novel because of my upcoming critique group session. There were a few times I actually did sit down and work on it, but then I managed to find other projects that need immediate attention. I justified switching to these diversions by saying, “Well, if I don’t work on it right now, I can work on it tonight. Or if not tonight, I have all day tomorrow. And if not tomorrow, there is the weekend.” Effectively, what I’ve done is to create the illusion of having a lot of time available to me, and then filling that time with other tasks and activities because – well – I have so much time! Then I discover that it is Sunday night, I’ve only written three pages of an entire chapter, and critique group is tomorrow.
I will say this – my house is clean, my laundry is done, I’ve read a great deal, I’ve applied for a bazillion jobs, and I’m a very productive little bee. I just haven’t written as much as I should.
My darling writing partner does this, too (sorry J – calling you out!). He has taught me to add new kinds of justification to my bad habit, such as saying that, “When I find a job, I’ll have a better routine, and then I can be more productive at writing.” The fact is – and we both know it! – we need to build the routine first, then we can adapt it later.
I have to say that I am astounded at myself. NEVER in my life has laundry been more important than anything, and especially not my writing! This procrastinating thing has become a sort of mental illness with me. When I believe that taking out a half-full garbage bag is more urgent than writing, something must be terribly wrong! I’ve gone through cycles of putting-off-writing before, and I know what the end result is: it isn’t good.
So officially – I am breaking the habit starting today. I am dedicating a minimum of 30 minutes a day to writing. I will not go to bed until it is done. I will take my computer with me to bed if I have to in order to accommodate that. If all I manage to do is write those 30 minutes a day, I would have 3 1/2 hours by the end of the week. I can make a lot of progress in that much time. But I know for a fact that writing is as much a habit as anything else, and once I start back into a system for doing it, I won’t be satisfied with stopping at 3 1/2 hours a week. This novel (currently titled Death Kiss) will be finished by the end of the year, and it will be ready for critique sessions throughout the process. Yes, I’ve slipped, so it’s time to get back up and move forward again.
No more justification – it’s just time to get it moving in the right direction again.