Welcome to the new blog series, Tick-Tock, Writer’s Block. We hope you will find this 10-week series informative as we dive into time management and that little annoyance that seems to plague all writers from time to time, writer’s block.
10 writers have teamed up to offer you tips, tricks, and general information about these issues. We hope this series provides insight and useful tools you can put into practice with your own writing habits!
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How Embracing Your Inner-Procrastinator Can Make You a Better Writer
I am, by nature, a procrastinator. Did you cringe just now over that awkward opening? Why is there such a stigma surrounding procrastination? In our dog-eat-dog, time-is-money culture we have been conditioned to believe that if we’re not moving forward we must be moving back. Success is measured by quantifiable metrics. For writers, it might be how many words we wrote during our last session, how often we post on our blogs, and how many likes we get on those posts or social media.
As we continue with the Tick-Tock Writer’s Block series, I’d like to suggest why embracing your inner procrastinator can actually foster overall success on your writing journey.
First, I’d like to suggest that there’s been a gross misnomer of the concept of procrastination. By definition, the word procrastination means putting off an undesirable task for one more pleasurable. We’ve all been there, sure. Watching one more episode of our favorite Netflix show instead of folding the laundry. But in researching for this post, I came across the Wikipedia entry for procrastination. The last line of the description reads, “Procrastination can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression and self-doubt.” Truth is, I’ve been here, too. Our minds fill with shoulds and ought-tos. But, I’ve noticed that in many cases what we self-define as procrastination might be better termed REST…RETREAT…or search for necessary BALANCE.
“Rest and self-care are so important.
When you take time to replenish your spirit,
it allows you to serve others from the overflow.
You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
– Eleanor Brownn
When we recognize procrastination to be opportunity for intentional “rest” we also see the potential it brings for self-care in order to better serve our readers. Think of the last time you flew on an airplane. During the safety review, in the scenario of a loss of cabin pressure, passengers are instructed to put on their own oxygen mask before assisting others. For those of us who write Christian fiction, within which the message of peace, hope, and love are so important to properly convey, it is imperative that we first understand those things personally. That can’t happen when we force our nose to the grindstone of the keyboard every possible minute, leaving no time for balance and self-care.
So, here are two ways I’ve noticed my writing journey has benefited from embracing my inner-procrastinator.
Procrastination Breeds New Ideas
We all have days penciled into the calendar for writing that, in reality, just don’t happen. For whatever reason, we’re peering down into an empty well and the words aren’t there.
When you just aren’t feeling it, stop and breathe. Look up and around. Let the world happening around you become your muse. It’s okay. In fact, it’s necessary. For me, new ideas for characters have been born while watching a cooking show. Songs on the radio have sparked a story arc of a new book plot. In times of letting myself avoid writing, I have purchased with that valuable time, the priceless commodity of new ideas.
I came across this quote from Where Good Ideas Come From: The History of Natural Innovation by popular science author and media theorist Steven Johnson: “Although in retrospect great discoveries may seem like single, definable eureka-moments, in reality they tend to fade into view slowly. They are like gradually maturing slow hunches, which demand time and cultivation to bloom.”
Behind every great story idea, every well-developed character, and all unique plot lines is time spent looking for inspiration. Be on the lookout for procrastination to offer the opportunity to plant the seed of new ideas or let newly planted ideas really take root.
Procrastination Quiets the Distractions
My debut novel releases in a few months. I’m constantly distracted by the ticker tape of to-do’s in my head. Schedule guest posts, send review requests, finalize back cover copy, plan blog tour, revise opening of chapter one (for the 56th time), design memes for promos, and, and, and… Oh, it’s so noisy!
The other night, I reached out to a fellow author about feeling like I was drowning. The distractions were so great. But I should be busy, right? It should be hard. I’m trying to self-publish a book, for goodness sake. But she gave me permission to put it all down and take a night off. Reluctantly, I instead grabbed a book and some coffee. Amazingly, the next day the distractions weren’t nearly as loud and obnoxious. By procrastinating (i.e. taking time away from being a writer), I was able to take back control, reset priorities, and even see how the chapter I was working on could be better.
Spiritual leader and author, Marianne Williamson defines the odd celebration of business our culture tells us is admirable: “We cannot get to our knowledge because the world is too loud. And we tend to make it louder as we cry out in pain, pretending we are singing.” There’s no reward for celebrating the struggle of our journey. Sure, hard work pays off. But it doesn’t have to equal “no pain, no gain.” Be kinder to yourself. Quiet the distractions and watch the writing become more pleasurable and quite possibly better.
Be Encouraged, Writer!
There are times when procrastination is not useful and lives up to its reputation. Weeks of avoiding your story may be an indication that you need a real break from your project – and that’s okay too. But in day-to-day moments of taking time to breathe, closing the laptop and enjoying a quiet bath, or taking an evening off to go to bed early and wake up rested – in these moments, I encourage you to find solace in seizing opportunities to seek rest, retreat, balance. Procrastinate away the loud distractions so you can better hear the small, still voices of inspiration.
Be a better writer. Procrastinate.
Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances, inspired by grace. As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.
Coming May 30, 2017
Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On a little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.
Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together, they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance.
But it’s not all smooth sailing. Together, they must find a way to survive the destructive pain of their pasts and ultimately discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts.
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Check out last week’s post, The Elements of Fun by Angela Ruth Strong. Don’t miss our next post, published every Wednesday! Take a look at this awesome line up!