Procrastinating and other tales from the crypt….er, basement office.

By Liz, from the bowels of the basement office in Connecticut. Is it spring yet?

I’m a procrastinator by nature. I used to get in trouble with my parents for it all the time when I was kid. I would leave homework, papers, in one case a whole semester of geometry until the last possible minute. But I always prevailed with a good grade. Except maybe in the case of geometry, but I’ve never actually needed that in my adult life anyway.

So, back to procrastination. It never seemed to be a huge problem before. There was sometimes that moment of panic when I realized the task ahead of me was bigger than I originally thought, but once I focused, I got though it.

The reason I’m telling you this is because I hit that moment of panic recently relating to book #3. (Which, on a side note, I’m thrilled to announce has an official name finally – The Icing on the Corpse!) That panic came when I counted down the days until my deadline – May 1 – and the amount of work I had left to do. Including, yeah, the entire climax scene. Which I hadn’t even written the rough draft of yet.

Why, you ask? It’s simple – I procrastinated. I’ve been working on the book since last fall, and while my word count was nearly there, a good portion of the book was not. And I needed to get my butt in the chair, stat.

So I scheduled three nearly uninterrupted vacation days from work tacked up against a weekend and locked myself away. I had tea, I had essential oils, I had Shaggy and Finny (my muses), I had a lot of notepads and I had the Freedom app.

And then I had no choice.

I wrote out a whole new timeline (twice), I deleted a whole bunch of words, I added scenes and edited early chapters and started to see connections and possibilities and the places where I was just rambling to make myself feel like I was in a good place word count wise.

Using my beloved Scrivener, I moved scenes around and dragged all the ones I had no idea if I would use in the final draft into one place where I didn’t have to look at them.

By the end of day three, I felt like I had finally gotten some control back over my world.

Barb Ross recently wrote a great post about the amount of work it takes to get a book written: the plot aspect, the character aspect, the secondary plots, all those relationships, the secrets. After reading about Barb’s process, I made some new lists this time. One was a list of what was revealed when, which was really helpful to see on paper.

I also realized something about my process. It’s definitely not like anyone else’s – and that’s okay. My first drafts rarely have the endings written when I go back to the beginning and start editing. I just need that big picture to make the final scenes work. So I never truly have a complete “first draft” until the third or fourth revision.

Which means I’m just about ready to write the end. I better get back to work. Maybe next time I won’t procrastinate so long – but probably not. Hey, at least it isn’t warm outside yet!

Readers and writers, does anyone else have a procrastination problem to share?

21 Thoughts

  1. And hey, you still have five weeks to go! I’ve always been something of a procrastinator but find I’m managing my time better as I get older. Glad you’re on track for the deadline, Liz.

  2. Yeah… mmm. Not unless avoiding going to bed (3:30 in the morning here right now) because you have all these other wonderful, brilliant, and amazing things to do (at what time of the night?) counts as procrastination. Then no, I don’t. Hahahahahahahahaaaa!

    1. I wish I could do that, Reine! I would be so much more productive. Alas, I also need lots of sleep or I’m not fit for company.

      1. I’m just compulsive—can’t let go once I get going. I would love to be more productive on certain tasks.

  3. Time management is a constant challenge, and source of discussion, at my house. I am not a procrastinator but I am easily distracted. Those five days locked up seem to work for you, Liz. Maybe plan that for every book? And I love The Icing on the Corpse!

  4. I feel guilty because I have no day job, no kids at home, and a husband who is more or less self-sufficient–hence, no excuses. But I’ve always had a finely tuned subconscious time sense. I seem to know where that delicate balance point between panic and just enough time lies, which is when I shift gears and get things done. That panic cuts through the underbrush and forces you to see the essentials. So far.

    1. I’m getting there, Sheila – the only problem is it’s not early enough for me to avoid the mad scramble! But on the other hand, it seems to work for me (knocking on wood)!

      1. That’s a good point, Sheila. I’ve said before. maturity doesn’t mean you don’t put things off until the last minute. I just means you know when the last minute actually is!

  5. My mind seems to wander at the drop of a note. I end up wondering where the time went. Maybe that’s why my desk is piled up with books I’ve finished but still waiting for a review. I wonder if there’s a pill you can take for this?

  6. Procrastinate? Me? I’ll tell you what I think of that idea…later.

    My two mottos: Why put off today what you can put off putting off until tomorrow? Tomorrow I’ll stop procrastinating.

    I realized in early March that I had run out of Saturdays to do my taxes (something I usually do in February but didn’t even think about). The temp job I’d been working for a year and a half was ending, so I’d have plenty of time to do them. Then I got another temp job that ended a week and a half ago. I’m making today all about doing my taxes (finally), but so far I’ve spent an hour and a half on the internet not getting anything productive done.

  7. I’m a card carrying member of Procrastinators United. In fact I clicked on Wicked Cozy Authors this morning and thought, interesting topic, I’ll read it later. It’s a good post, Liz and I’m trying not to procrastinate too much with book two. Although my original deadline of March 19th for a first draft has come and gone. I’ve set another for the end of May.

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