I tend to procrastinate. Always have. Likely always will. I find myself easily distracted until I absolutely cannot put something off any longer. And then I procrastinate some more. It’s a good thing I work well under pressure, or I would never get anything done. It is almost like I need that impending deadline looming ahead of me in order to actually be productive.
This is why NaNoWriMo worked so well for me. It gave me a daily goal, and pointed it out when I didn’t hit it. Actually, it may have taken it too far, pointing out my failings when I took the day after reaching 50,000 words. Reminding me that I hadn’t hit my word count for the day, in spite of the fact that I had written a mere 11,000 words the day before.
It did this with tables and graphs—pretty graphics that made it obvious when I excelled and when I failed. It had a line on a bar graph that showed where you should be each day, and my competitive spirit kept me moving. There was no way I was going to fall below that line. And, when my own stats weren’t enough, I could always look at other people’s pretty graphics. When I saw someone—especially my favorite writing buddy—ahead of me, it propelled me to write more. I couldn’t fall behind.
But now it’s January, and my goals are again just mine; they are again easy to blow off. I find myself easily distracted by mundane household tasks like laundry and dishes and making sure Pookie has a half-decent dinner after a long day at work—all things I blew off in favor of NaNo. The internet is even worse. Facebook. Twitter. And don’t get me started on the blogs of fellow writers—I could get lost in them for days, absorbing all the experience of those before me.
But they don’t help me to write. Kaye and I both find ourselves giving into these distractions, saying we’ll catch-up the following day. Sometimes we do… sometimes we don’t. So, we email each other pep-talks. Or a cool site for a great little hotel. Or a new blog we just found. Or what we are reading now, what we plan to read next. Or that crazy thing that Pookie or Sparky just said. Before we know it, we have spent hours emailing back and forth. Most of it is about writing, yet it is keeping us away from actually writing.
I knew we had a problem when Pookie asked how many emails Kaye and I sent back and forth a few days ago, and I said it was a slow day, we had both been really productive. I wrote over 2,000 words and spent a few hours outlining. Then I looked at the trail of messages from the day on my Blackberry, only to see we had still sent 36 messages—and it was only 6 in the evening. Could it be? My amazing writing buddy, and one of my strongest support systems, was keeping me from my goal? Nah.
OK, maybe. But here’s the thing—a lot of those emails are one or two lines, and a good portion of them are actually about writing. So, while we may point each other to the latest change in snowfall predictions or the great deal we found on K-cups, we also help each other through the tough points in a plot, or debate names of new characters, or use each other as a sounding board for that great but scary idea we just came up with.
We may help each other to procrastinate, but we can also count on one another for the swift kick-in-the-butt we need when we get too far off course. Just like the NaNo discussion boards promoted procrastination in the face of the graphics that kept us going, Kaye and I procrastinate together, then keep one another going. We have become each other’s pretty graph. We are in this together, so we keep each other going.
And if that fails, we will just create a novel out of our daily emails. We are surely over 100,000 words by now.
How do you keep yourself on track? Do you have someone or something that helps you procrastinate and get the job done?