How I Trick Myself Out of Procrastination – Guest Cheryl Hollon

Liz here, welcoming back our good friend Cheryl Hollon. (We always love when you come to visit, Cheryl!) And today, she’s talking about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart – procrastinating. I definitely need to try some of her methods below…

If procrastination is my weakness, ingenuity is my strength. I have a lot of tricks to get me out from under those time-wasters that eat into my productive writing time. You know what I mean, like Facebook, where you’re only going to check on a few of your friends. Then, whoosh! It’s been two hours.

Meeting my publisher’s deadlines is a serious matter. My engineering career demanded unfailing compliance with project milestones to keep our government on schedule. I treat my writing business with the same attitude.

However, lofty intensions don’t keep me from wandering off the path, so I’ve adopted some little tricks to keep the words flowing onto the page. The first approach is to have a set routine each morning for starting the day. I am more or less on complete autopilot until I’m sitting at my computer out in my writing shed.

My first trick is to open my writing-in-progress document. Then I sprint for one hour without checking e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. This is the most powerful tool in my box of tricks. The second trick is that when I complete my sprint, I can work the Times Mini Crossword Puzzle ( ). The reason I choose the mini puzzle rather than the grown-up version? It takes me less than five minutes to solve.

After that, I get some administrative tasks done. But, here’s how I limit my time: I use an hour-glass. It should be called a half-hour-glass because it takes thirty minutes for the sand to run out.

Cheryl 1

Throughout the day, I use various other rewards. Lunch is a big one, so is another cup of coffee. Sometimes, it’s a piece of candy or a chilled Coke in a glass bottle. Basically, whatever it takes to get me to my word target for the day.

What are your tricks?


Each book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery Series highlights a particular skill within the broad category of glass art. Savannah Webb will teach and participate in each skill area exploring and expanding her knowledge of the craft, along with her assistant, Amanda Blake. As a subject matter expert consulting with the St. Petersburg Police Department, her close associations within the art community and the unusually keen observation skills of her apprentice, Jacob Underwood, combine to solve crimes. Edward Morris, boyfriend and the British owner of the pub next door, fills out the investigation posse with more than moral support accompanied by coffee and scones. The craft topics for the third book in the series are etching glass and slumping glass to make dishware.

The cover art for Etched in Tears (Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery #4) is an image of my favorite museum with the magnificent droopy bench in front. That’s where the body is discovered, so as research, I had to slump myself over the bench to see if it was feasible. I considered it a triumph to get strange looks at an art museum that specializes in surrealism.

Etched in Tears_MM.indd

My husband, George and I have a glass studio in a freestanding cottage behind our house and we enjoy making promotional gifts for my blog tours. For this book, I will be giving away all sorts of etched items: wine glasses, pendants, earrings and maybe some beer steins.

You can read more about Savannah in Etched in Tears, the fourth book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries, published by Kensington Books. Available for pre-order at your favorite book vendor. It releases on November 28, 2017.

About Etched in Tears:

When a famous glass artist is murdered at his own exhibit, deadly secrets are put on display, and it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb to see through a killer’s cover.

Celebrated glass artist Dennis Lansing is returning to St. Petersburg, Florida, for an exhibit at the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum. His unique style of embedding document images into his art is at the vanguard of contemporary glasswork. But as Savannah’s first boyfriend and a former apprentice to her father, Dennis’s return home has her reflecting on the past—a trip down memory lane that takes a dark turn when Dennis is found murdered at the museum with an old reference letter from her father in his pocket. A search through her father’s records sheds new light on Dennis’s history, but it seems his present life wasn’t so transparent either. Now, with a gallery of suspects to consider, it’s up to Savannah to figure out who fits the mold of a murderer.

Meet the author:

Author Hollon Photo

Cheryl Hollon writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art.


34 Thoughts

  1. I love the old-school hour (half-hour) glass, Cheryl!

    1. I LOVE IT! I knew that I wanted one and it keeps me from looking at a clock and then doing the math to figure out how much time I have left. It’s oddly soothing.

  2. Welcome back, Cheryl! Great tips, and thanks for sharing them. As you know, I am also part of Ramona DeFelice Long’s sprint “club” (if you can call it a club where everybody checks in and then ignores each other for the next hour!), and it’s a hugely important start to my day. I reward myself for work by going for my fast walk at around 11 in the morning, too. And for keeping up with my word count goals – it’s a reward to see those numbers inch up when I’m writing a first draft.

    1. That morning sprint completely sets up my day. I’m also a word target junkie. I feel terrible if I don’t make it so I set them a little low and then feel very accomplished when I exceed the number.

  3. Thanks for the tips, Cheryl. I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. It’s even worse since I don’t currently have a deadline. I may have to go out and buy an hourglass!

    1. The hourglass is so much better than one of those kitchen times that make a loud buzz. If by chance I’m in the zone, the hourglass won’t interrupt with a rude noise, so sometimes I write longer without realizing it. Wonderful!

  4. Welcome back, Cheryl. I am a terrible procrastinator, and also a person who requires time and focus to write. Jessie introduced me to the Pomodoro app years ago, and I use it the way you use your hour glass.

    1. My problem with timers is that I startle so easily. When the timer buzzes – whoosh – there goes whatever brilliant thought was passing through my brain. I need absolute quiet.

  5. Oh, this post resonates so strongly with me. It’s a constant series of tricks and deals and promises and rewards for myself…. and still it’s a tough negotiation! Love this!

    1. Oh, the deals I make! I’ve also used chocolate, but I consider that pretty much a primary food group, not especially a reward.

  6. Thank you for sharing your tricks, Cheryl! I live by the hour–never sit for more than an hour if possible–so I also own an hour glass. It’s a constant battle to fight distractions, isn’t it?

  7. This is helpful. Thank you for sharing your tips. I have to admit, I wasn’t familiar with this series but it looks fascinating. I’ll be on the lookout for it.

  8. I love your hour glass, Cheryl! As Barb mentioned above, I use the Pomodoro method when I am really trying to rack up word count or to tackle unpleasant tasks that I keep shoving to the bottom of the to-do list.

    I also try to break down those tasks I really don’t want to do into the smallest action step possible. If I make the task tiny enough it feels ridiculous not to just get it done. More often than not once I get started on something I make more progress than I originally planned and I feel enthusiastic and accomplished rather than like an overwhelmed slacker.

    1. Oh, we’re sisters in planning! I break down everything into tiny goals as well. I usually get more done than planned. That feels so much better than falling short. Writing, revising, proofing a book is a long process. Baby steps is the key for me.

    2. I, too, break down tasks into small pieces. Sometimes I even do a to-do of the little pieces. Then it feels so good to cross off a bunch of stuff. And, like you and others, I generally do a lot more than planned. It’s just getting started that is so hard.

  9. Great post. I do disappear down the wormhole known as Facebook way too much. I’ve taken to opening my draft first thing. It’s there in my toolbar haunting me. I do FB first because I’m too tired to write right away in the AM. Once I pick up steam, my browser gets minimized and draft maximized. I was doing the 15 minutes thing where you write at least 15 minutes every day, which usually turned into way more. But on days when I only accomplished 15 minutes, it was great because I still felt I’d accomplished something. Now I’m at a point where the goal is chapters – two a week. Almost done with the draft of book 4. But I want an hourglass! That is AWESOME.

    1. Hi Ellen, I open the WIP first and then try to get at least a hundred words in before I open FB. The social media is also part of the writer’s job, but it’s siren song has taken me away from the writing more than once.

      1. Funny. I need almost an hour of internet before I can focus on my 7 AM sprint. I wake up so early that most days that isn’t a problem at all.If I don’t catch up on blogs, FB, and email first, I’m too distracted to be creative!

  10. Cheryl, this is great stuff. Along with everyone else – I want one of those wonderful hourglasses!
    And now I want to visit the Dali Museum. What a spectacular place! Have you visited the Chihuly Gardens in Seattle? or the museum in Tacoma WA that has his bridge of glass? such wonderful possibilities in that art form.

    1. Hi Shari, I haven’t been to Seattle, yet. I plan for a trip if/when I get to plot one where Savannah returns to her apprentice stomping grounds there. Fingers crossed I get to do that. Love the Chihuly ceiling in Las Vegas.

  11. There are some very cool ideas in here. I’ll think about implementing some of them tomorrow.

  12. Oh, another series that teaches me about something I know nothing about (except I love blown glass). Indie bookstore, here I come!

  13. Love the tips, Cheryl–thanks! I read this post this am and have been trying to earn a chilled Coke in a glass bottle (happen to have just one in the fridge) all day!

  14. Great tips! I didn’t know that the N.Y. Mini-crossword existed! ☺ Love the cover of Etched in Tears, I am so looking forward to heading back to Webb’s!

  15. I love your tips! I’m rushing out to buy an hour glass. And the theme music from Days of Our Lives is now playing in my head.

  16. I have enjoyed her books. Looks like this one has another pretty cover!

    On Tue, May 9, 2017 at 2:00 AM, Wicked Cozy Authors wrote:

    > Liz Mugavero posted: “Liz here, welcoming back our good friend Cheryl > Hollon. (We always love when you come to visit, Cheryl!) And today, she’s > talking about a subject that’s near and dear to my heart – procrastinating. > I definitely need to try some of her methods below… ” >

  17. I just tell myself “People are more important than projects,” unsubscribe from as much as possible, and try NOT to read the comments.

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