Hello, Pat Davids here. This month on our WARA blog we are going to be talking about writing problems we have and how to solve them.
Oh, if only there was a way to solve my writing problem.

My problem is procrastination. Not a small amount of procrastination. I am talking about procrastination the size of Mount Everest. An enormous, five-mile high, thin-altitude, ice-covered hunk of a mountain’s worth of procrastination that I may never be able to climb over.

What!! You all exclaim. Pat, you've written 15 books! How can you claim you suffer from procrastination? I don't just claim it, I can prove it. Right now, it is ten fifty-five p.m. on August 1st and my blog is due to be posted after midnight. See, I procrastinate. When did I look up what I was to blog about? A single minute prior to starting this post. When I think of how much preparation time Penny puts into her posts I'm almost ashamed to admit mine are off-the-cuff.

Earlier today I was expecting a call from my agent. Because I was unable to meet her at the RWA conference, we didn't have a chance to discuss my writing plan for the year, what projects I wanted to work on, who I might want to target with new work or where I wanted to take my career. I was DREADING her call. Why? Because I had next to nothing planned and no idea what direction I wanted to take my career.

In true queen-like style, I have been telling people my new goal is to become famous. To make the New York Times bestseller list. How am I going to achieve such a lofty goal? I don’t have a clue, but it sounds good.

My actual goal is to meet the looming deadlines of the books I have under contract. How much have I written? Fifteen pages. First book is due Oct 1st. In a bout of gloomy soul-searching just ten minuets before her call (notice once again my glaring procrastination) I discovered a disturbing underlying cause of my affliction. I'm not afraid of failure. I'm not afraid of success. I'm not afraid of bad reviews. I'm not even afraid of being thought unreliable by my publishers. I mean, what the heck, I'm still a good nurse. That job is not going away.

No, I realized that I'm afraid I don't have anything meaningful to say.

That's it. That's the fear that holds me back.

People can tell me my work is meaningful, my work is funny, or my work is endearing, or even that it sucks. If I don't believe it in my heart, then what someone else says doesn't matter.

Perhaps the recent sad events in my life have skewed my perspective. I don't know. I do know I have always loved to tell stories and I always will.

In the end, I have to believe I will conquer this fear now that I recognize it. Why? Because I hate roadblocks. I hate letting something else keep me from getting where I want to go. If I want to hit the New York Times bestseller list I really have to write more books. I really have to write better books, books with something meaningful in them.

And do you know what I just realized? What is more meaningful than LOVE? Wow! Why didn't I think of that before?

So, do you suffer from procrastination? How do you fight it? I'd love to hear.


Melissa Robbins said...

Nice to know I'm not the only one who procrastinates. I battle procrastination by having other writers who nag and encourage me.

I think love is very meaningful. Now stop procrastinating and go write that story.

Pat Davids said...

No, Melissa, you are not the only one. We are a very big club. I hope you battle it hard enough to get some writing done today.

Rox Delaney said...

The Queen of Procrastination here. Please don't get me started, because then I have to feel shame, and I just don't like that.

Princess Pat, you just made me realize that this business makes it easy to procrastinate. No wonder we chose it!!

There are programs for everything. Is there one for procrastination? If not, maybe we should all form one? We could call it Procrastinators Anonymous. No 12-Step program for us. There's only one step. Butt-Kicking.

Pat Davids said...

Rox, I'm going to go look for the whip you gave me. With that in hand, I should be able to motivate any number of procrastinating writers.

Reese Mobley said...

Being around other writers who are writing is my biggest motivator. After a critique group or monthly WARA meeting I always feel inspired enough to believe I can write something worth reading.

Okay, why did Rox give you a whip? Why didn't she buy everyone a whip? And, do you think it would help me? Inquiring minds want to know!!

Rox Delaney said...

Well, now, Princess-with-a-Whip, that might work for me and the other putter-offers, but all it'll do for you is wear you out whipping us all. Therefore, I'll have to get MY whip, which is much longer but not as nice, and convince you in the same way. :)

Rox Delaney said...

Rox will try to remember to post the pic of Princess-with-a-Whip with her post on the 8th.


Melissa Robbins said...

I agree Reese! Hanging out with other writers is so encouraging.

Don't use that whip on me. I got up at 5:30 this morning (which is late for me) to edit my first story and after lunch, I worked on clues for my second story.

Pat Davids said...

Rox gave me a whip because I needed to get my butt in gear and write. Or, maybe she gave it to me to keep WARA members in line. I can't remember exactly. I'm sure it's still in my closet...somewhere.

Melissa, you've done enough for today. Take a break and congrats on a job well done.

Reese, I'm sure it will help you add some hilarious new scene to your current or future work.

Rox, don’t you dare post that picture!

Frances Louis said...

Testing, Testing, one, two the mic on?
So, my name is Frances Louis and I'm *gasp* a...a...procrastinator!!!
I'm currently dreading the rewrite of a scene in my book, and I'm using this post to avoid writing it, and thereby procrastinate. ;) It's so nice to know I'm not alone. Thanks for keeping it real, Pat!

Penny Rader said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Penny Rader said...

"I realized that I'm afraid I don't have anything meaningful to say."

Omigosh, Pat! Were you just inside my head?

That's exactly why I procrastinate so much. To the point of paralyzing myself and writing nothing for months on end. I hate being afraid. What if it sucks? What if absolutely no words come? In a whacked out sort of way not writing is sort of safer than writing because I don't have to look at the blank page or the page with crappy writing. OTOH, not writing is another form of failure.

Anyway, you asked how we beat procrastination. I haven't cured myself yet. I have thought about forming a Procrastinators Anonymous group, but I keep putting it off. ;D

Joan Vincent said...

There was only one comment when I cruised by on the 2nd. So what did I do -- procrastinated! -- and now there are 12 comments. The rest of you were very busy not procrastinating.

Seriously I think the only way to beat this particular bug is to set goals and get that whip out. I agree with Reese that being with and discussing your work with other writers is truly motivating and even makes, at least me, more excited about getting to work writing.

Pat Davids said...

I pretty sure we suffer from the same fear that keeps hundreds, if not thousands of people from realizing their potential.

As Queen of WARA, I hearby decree that you must sit and type for ten minutes today. I want you to type, "This is crap, my story sucks, I couldn't write my way out of a paper bag. My heroine would say xx about my writing. My hero would say "something else" about my writing. Write as fast as you can.

At the end of five minutes, print it out and tear the papers into a hundred pieces. What to they know? You made them up! Now write how they would apologize to you.

Accept their apology, delete it and write one paragraph about your story.

Let me know what happens next.

Nina Sipes said...

We have to have meaningful stories? Who made that rule? Bestseller list? Those have meaning? Have you read any of them lately?

We write about the human condition. It has no meaning, it just is. More than that, we give it importance because we want the the story to work out like life sometimes does, but isn't guaranteed. I think we write about hope--not love. We want the hope of love, the hope of a future, the hope of companionship, the hope of a life with just enough strife. We want the hope of meaning. We don't really need the reality of it. Many people don't recognize happiness when they have it. They recognize it when they've lost it. The same is true of meaning. That is objective. You can't really be in it when it happens and go, 'Wow, meaning just hit me right then.'

Don't wait for meaning. It oozes out of the stories you tell as you chronicle events in your character's life.

That's how I see it anyway.

About Procrastination. I have a different word for the very high end kind of procrastination I do. It is practicing avoidance.

Yes, I get busy doing ever-so-important things such as cleaning refrigerator coils and dusting light bulbs while avoiding writing. After all, dusted light bulbs are obviously an important accomplishment. I practice this higher form of procrastination because I can't figure out what goes next!!!! in a story. I hate that, but seem unable to fix it.
Talking with writers helps me an awful lot. Thank you one and all for all you do.

Uh, Pat, the whip was to use on us. I remember the ceremony conferring it. It came the same day that you passed out the goal forming forms.

Starla Kaye said...

You not have anything meaningful to say? Sweetie, you just did. You admitted your procrastination problem. Step one in some kind of recovery plan, right?

I'm right there with you. I've discovered I work my very best right down at the last minute. Of course, I can also be a bear to live with when I'm under that kind of pressure. I see myself as a panda bear...I like them. Whatever.