Nasty Habits

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.

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12 thoughts on “Nasty Habits

  1. Randall says:

    Love your article about procrastination, and the pictures (Oh my!). I always say I have some extra if you ever need to borrow any. Wonderful blog, love it.

  2. Kyle Mullin says:

    Freakin love you Kim! You are so honest! I am the KING of procrastination! It’s terrible. I do the same things you do about, “Well, I have tomorrow, and if I don’t get it done tomorrow, I’ll get it done the next day.” It’s insane.

  3. Ha ha ha! I see I have given you some new JP methods! lol

  4. Joe Rhoad says:

    Hi, Kim! I’m guilty of that, too! Late assignments and a messy house are testament to the Prince of Procrastination! But my novel “Derelict” will eventually see the light of day–the manuscript is done, and in the process of revision.

    • Kim Justesen says:

      JOE!!! Is this MY Joe???
      HOW ARE YOU!!!???!!!

      Oh my gosh, you have been on my mind and in my thoughts recently! Please tell me you’ve been busy writing and submitting! You were ABSOLUTELY one of my favorite students!! I’m so glad you popped up here!

      • Joe Rhoad says:

        Yep, It’s me all right, Mr. “Wild Life” himself. I caught your blog on Facebook, and if you want to be an FB friend, that would be awesome. Thanks for your reply. I was wondering what happened to you! I’m taking the advanced writing course now. Nothing published yet, other than the club newsletter. Look me up on Facebook! Hope to hear from you soon.

  5. Linda Bennett says:

    I do believe that part of that procrastination is that, you are under alot of stress because of not finding a job. You will get through this, Mimi. Sending positive energy as always.

    • Kim Justesen says:

      Ms. Bennett –

      Your kindness and support has meant so much to me over the last six months or so (and even before!), and I have to say that you are truly a gem in my life! I am so thankful for all of your positive energy and your kind words!

      xoxox

      Mimi

  6. Linda Bennett says:

    That is what great friends are for. It’s easy to be positive when you have lots of love in your heart from family and great friend.

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