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Fragments and Shrapnel – Procastinating becuase I can

Before I started writing this week’s F&S, I had to check my e-mail three times, check a website I often go to for ideas, and then check Facebook to see if I had missed something. A friend just said she is taking three kids and a dog to the park. My life may not have been complete w/o me knowing that.

Each week before I write F&S I think about upcoming events and themes I can tie together. I checked my calendar and saw that Monday is summer Bank Holiday in Scotland and also Civic Holiday in Canada. Not much else going on. I suppose I could write about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding but that’s so 12 hours ago.

One of the themes that has been rearing its ugly head for me this week is procrastination. I am one of those people who can hit the ground running with projects that excite me. But if it’s something mundane like sweeping the kitchen floor or tending to my container garden, I’m not so ambitious. In his book On Writing, Stephen King, like many authors, said it is absolutely vital to write every day to keep things fresh and prevent you from loosing interest. I realized while I was writing this why writers hole themselves up in cabins with no running water or internet. There’s nothing they can do but write!

The past couple of months I have been working on a book and I’m finding I’m getting distracted by shiny things and checking Facebook, my e-mail and other assorted blogs when I get home. This weekend was the first one in a long time where I didn’t have something to do. I felt free and clear to write and be creative. But did I? Saturday I spent most of the day hanging out in the library and in the local nursery looking at plants. My husband and I did see a movie but I didn’t do anything creative. I wanted to write, I just wasn’t feeling inspired.

Luckily for me, my friend Kim came out with her monthly newsletter (which was absent of my usual column this month) and wrote an excellent and topical article on focusing. It sparked something inside me and got my creative juices flowing so picked up my copy of The Write Brain Workbook. The author,Bonnie Neubauer reminded me I needed to set aside some time each day to write. It doesn’t have to be 5 hours, it can be 10 minutes of free writing if that’s all I have time for.

Thinking about it now, the Virgo in me wants everything to perfect on the first try. If it’s not, I get frustrated and don’t want to continue. My friend told me in all seriousness before I started my book that I had permission to write a crappy first draft. I just need give myself permission to do it.

Kim’s newsletter lead me down a path of inspiration and I found Jamie Ridler’s excellent article on finding time to be creative which lead me to the Be Brave Project. I first wrote that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take Eleanor’s advice do something that scared me each day but then I thought a little more about my behavior and how I avoid being inconvenienced. I don’t stop and take a picture of the mural on the side of the building because getting my camera out of my bag is a pain and I don’t smile at the well-read homeless man I see each day because I am in “commute” mode. Moving my camera to more accessible pocket in my backpack and fix that problem and smiling at the homeless guy won’t kill me. Maybe he’ll tell me a story.

Perhaps I just need to realize that things don’t have be perfect the first time out of the chute. And maybe having no goals is the best goal.

Thoughts to ponder until next week.  What your best procrastination tools and what tips do you have for keeping things fresh?


About Anna Alexander

I get ideas. I write things. I sometimes follow through with those ideas. I also run long distances and live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband cat who lets us pay the mortgage on his house.

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