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Transcending Procrastination – You Can’t Finish What You Don’t Start

April 18, 2012

 

You have to take that first step

Internally committing to something is one thing. Publicly committing to something is entirely different for now there’s a heightened sense of accountability.

Your actions are measured, tallied. Your inaction noticed for the void of activity it occupies. Your ideas, your dreams, your goals are now in the public forum – no longer locked away in the confines of your mind.

They take on their own life, own identity and are now tangible. What no one could see is now in the limelight. It is now hanging over your head like a visible thought bubble…

…mine is written in 12pt Calibri font and says “I want to be a writer“.

Comfort zone be damned

In an effort to get my creativity kick-started I dove into a workshop with the amazingly talented, brilliantly authentic, witty and charming Donna Morrissey this past weekend.

It filled me with so much enthusiasm for the craft and allowed me to stretch my proverbial writing muscles.

We were challenged to write a number of short passages on the fly, without much preconceived thought about what we were writing. The results of our efforts were surprisingly good and some were downright outstanding. Some true talent in the group.

It uplifted my spirits in that it showed me I can put thoughts to paper and come up with something quite worthy of being shared. It also put me humbly in my place and at times made me feel extremely inferior in my skills compared to other writers.

Perhaps the best compliments came when other writers in the room approached me about a theme I had written about – procrastination.

We’re not so different, you and I

It turns out that a common characteristic amongst the group of writers was procrastination. In fact, many of us admittedly have been procrastinators our entire lives – right back to elementary school.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that my course mate (my grade 8 science teacher) admitted to also being a procrastinator!

It was quite enlightening to hear that the majority of the people in the room had had an idea for a book floating around in their head for up to 20 years. TWENTY!

Why do we put off these creative pursuits? Why don’t we listen to these yearnings to express ourselves?

Is it because we don’t believe in our abilities? Is it because we fear that our voice isn’t unique enough? Are we afraid of rejection?

You can’t finish what you don’t start

11Just like running a race, the most important step to finishing a race is actually starting the race. This also translates to writing.

If you don’t start writing then you’ll never finish what you aspire to write. If you can’t finish a novel then how can you possibly submit it to a publisher?

It sounds so logical yet is such a stumbling block for me personally. I’ve been so focused on the “what ifs” of the final product that it has been holding me back from actually getting anything on paper.

I need to stop looking so far ahead and instead focus on what I can control and actively make steps forward in achieving – the end result – a novel.

Once you turn of the faucet, it will just pour out

Since the course on Saturday I’ve opened up my notebook and begun jotting down ideas for settings, plot and characters.

It has been so much fun to finally get down on paper the ideas I have for the protagonist and the supporting characters and the antagonist as well. I’ve been documenting their personality traits, their flaws, their hopes, their history and even their physical appearance.

Some of them have come very easily as I’ve had them in my mind for a very long time. Others will come in time and will be developed as I go and the story unfolds.

I’ve also begun Pinterest boards dedicated to setting and details. Having something visual to draw upon for inspiration is extremely helpful.

One you set a plan in motion it is easier to move forward

My next step will be an outline of the different sections of the book – the major conflicts and events that will affect the character development. All of that is truly exciting.

I know that it won’t all happen overnight because I have a lot of other competing demands. However, it is fun to have this little alternate “life” going on in my head.

I am sometimes woken up through the night with a really great metaphor or a scene and I know this is a great sign as to how excited I am about this process.

Focus, focus, focus

For now I’m going to forget about the future details of publishing and just focus on the here and now – getting words down and moving the story forward.

I’m excited to see what this brain of mine comes up with and what I’ll learn about myself in the process of writing.

I’ve got a voice – I just need to use it. 🙂


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5 Comments

  • Reply Melanie Cole April 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I think you’re speaking a universal language when you talk about writers and procrastination! I know what you mean when you talk about the what if’s holding you back. I wrote a post on that myself. (http://thelifeandtimesofawannabewriter.blogspot.ca/2012/04/obstacles-to-writing.html) Good for you on getting started on your own novel!

    • Reply Tammi April 18, 2012 at 5:14 PM

      Great minds think alike Melanie! Seems we are all more alike than we initially realize which is quite comforting in reminding us we’re not alone 🙂

  • Reply Donna Laprade April 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM

    I don’t know of many authors who knock books out every month with the exception of the bodice ripper harlequin fluff. I’ve seen authors such as Stephen King and John Gresham write in their acknowledgements that “this book has been a work in progress for 8 years”. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself!

    • Reply Tammi April 18, 2012 at 5:21 PM

      I haven’t set any time frame for the completion of the novel as I know it might take me years (decades?) to get it to a place I’m happy with it and comfortable enough to share it with anyone. I also don’t have the luxury of time that professional writers have to dedicate solely to research, reading and writing – I’ll be doing this between a full time job and family demands so placing deadlines on myself is unrealistic. The only pressure I placed on myself was to quit procrastinating and quit saying “someday”. It will never get written if I can’t even start it! Now that I’ve overcome that obstacle I’m excited to begin digging in a bit at a time and seeing where my imagination takes me 🙂

  • Reply Kim June 12, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    I didn’t realize you were a writer too! I’m a non-fiction writer, but still. Good for you for taking the leap and starting a book idea – starting really IS the hardest part. Once you get going you wonder why it took you so long to start in the first place! I have only read this one blog, but from that it seems like you are a great writer, so I’m sure you will go far with this goal. (btw I love your background – that is a gorg sunset! btww I think we should get together for lunch someday bc it seems like we’d get along! lol)

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