Contributed by Mary Jo Guglielmo.
“If and When were planted, and Nothing grew.” ~Proverb
Procrastination………….who me? I know how to get things done; I also know how to procrastinate. As a writer, sometimes procrastination has to do with feeling lost in a project, other times it’s about not being satisfied with a draft. Personally, I’m pretty disciplined with my writing time, but I can procrastinate for months when it comes to sending a draft off to an agent or editor.
After having my 900 word manuscript accepted by a magazine, the editor sent it back to me asking that I further develop the topic. I quickly added the info requested and sent it back. The editor responded with …”tell me more.” Again, I added another section and resubmitted the manuscript. I was sure I was done with the manuscript. The editor responded with highlighting another section and once again said…”tell me more”. Frustrated and not sure what she wanted, I put the manuscript down for three months. When I finally finished the manuscript it was almost 3,000 words. I was sure too much time had elapsed and the editor would no longer be interested, but with the next submission to the editor, I received my contract for publication. Fortunately, my procrastinating didn’t cost me the contract, but it certainly raised my angst about the project.
Now when I find myself procrastinating I apply bookends to the project. Once I decide what I’m gong to work on, I schedule it and plan a pre and post project incentive. It’s my bookends. I treat myself or do something I enjoy prior to starting the project and again when I finish it. Sometimes, it’s something small like a trip to Starbucks before doing research on a project, other times it’s a day at the zoo or the art institute.
Why do bookends work? I think because the first bookend marks it’s time to start and then the last bookend acknowledges the accomplishment. Sometimes the bookend at the end is something that I’m really dying to do or is time sensitive. This gives me the added push to slug through until I’m finished. So if you find yourself procrastinating, try bookends.
Being a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.
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