What’s the worst writing mistake you ever made that taught you a valuable lesson?
This one is easy for me.  Not easy in picking which mistakes, because there have been oh so many the last ten or so years.  Easy because there is ONE huge mistake that stands out above all the others. 

It's something we probably all struggle with, but handle differently.  Something that I still struggle with today, so if anyone has any magic answers to how to end the vicious cycle feel free to share.

One word sums up my biggest mistake:  PROCRASTINATION   

My biggest mistake so far in a nutshell:  Not following through.

I'd been writing about 3 years and had started doing well in contests.  I'd even managed to final in RWA's 2005 Golden Heart contest.  My writing had gotten requests, and even made it as far as an editor asking for revisions.  And what did I do?  I didn't follow through.  I let life get in the way and kept promising myself SOMEDAY I'd get to that, SOMEDAY I'd finish the revisions and get more out there.   

What in the world was I thinking? 

I wasn't thinking I guess.  I let life get in the way.  Life can be a really tricky thing, but life is something that we all have to learn to deal with in our own way.  If we let life keep us from our dreams, are we really living to the fullest anyway?  Knowing what I should be doing and doing it are still not coming together as nicely as I'd like.  Right now I have a request from an editor to see more of my writing and I've been sitting on it.  Those some day thoughts dancing through my mind. 

Just the other day I took a small step toward kicking my own rear in gear.  I took the letter out of hiding and framed it and hung it over my desk.  Now I at least have to look at it every day and be reminded that I have something I SHOULD be doing.  Seeing the letter makes me stop and remember my past mistake of putting things off.  Continued putting things off really never gets them done believe it or not.  Just took me a few years to wrap my mind around that one.  Still wrapping and still fighting that battle every day.  

Anyone out there besides me have trouble with procrastination?  Anyone winning the battle?  Tell me about it.


Reese Mobley said...

We can't change the past so the best we can do is start fresh tomorrow. This year I started keeping track of my words and set a manageable goal. That made a huge impact on my word count.

I admit that I put a lot of things off too but having crit partners who are selling a ton of books between them really kicks me in the a**.

I can't wait for it to be my turn to shine. Challenge yourself. Heck, challenge me. I'm up for it.

Pat Davids said...

I struggle with prograstination on a daily basis. I can literally waste an entire day thinking about how I should be writing without ever writing a word. I go to bed angry with myself for not writing. I wake up determined to do better, and I repeat the same thing over again. Only when my goal is so far gone that I know I can't make it do I find the "kick" I need to charge after it.

For me, the trigger is accountability. I'm not a good task master but if I tell someone else I'll have something done by a certain time, then I push to make that deadline.

If YOU can't make you do it, hook up with someone who'll bug you until you provide results. If that's a critique partner or simply a friend who is waiting for you to send her that next chapter, that's who you need to listen to. We all need someone to push us in the right direction. Going it alone is much too hard.

Rox Delaney said...

Ah, another of my loyal subjects. As the Queen of Procrastination, I understand every word. But I'll have to put all that aside, because...well, because I have to procrastinate and go find something else that's pretty and shiny to grab my attention.

Seriously, Tammy, I doubt there's a single soul out there who hasn't dealt with procrastination. Some of us just do it more often. We're all guilty of letting it rule our lives. (And as for that dealing with life thing, while putting other things aside, I totally understand. Only I came to a point where I became the most important thing. At least for a while, anyway.)

A little drugstore psychology says the procrastination stems from fear. Fear of failure? Or fear of success? You choose. And after you do, there are at least three of us here that are more than willing to lend a hand, a shoulder, a minute or all the time needed to help you over the hurdle of putting things off.

Anonymous said...

A challenge sounds like fun - I might just take you up on that Reese. :-)

Pat - LOL, i so hear you. I do a lot of thinking about what I should be doing and never do it and then I get more stressed about how I should be doing it which makes me think about it harder but still not do it.. sigh.

Rox - so you're the Queen. You can gladly keep the crown, I need to stop it. lol So happy the three of you are in my corner.

Debo said...

Isn't it the truth! When we have real reasons that we don't have the time we'd like to have to just sit and write, we complain about not having time. Then when our schedules open up, we find a million things to do other than write. It's amazing how cleaning a dirty toilet suddenly becomes an appealing task. Or maybe the spice cabinet suddenly needs alphabetized. Dust bunnies in areas we haven't even thought about for years suddenly jump out at us and beg to be swiffered away. I once heard about a husband who put a screen saver that said "MUST KEEP WRITING" or something like that on his writer wife's computer. Visual reminders of writing goals are great. I've also recently started telling myself daily (sometimes hourly), "If I'm not excited about writing it, who is going to be excited about reading it?" It's working so far and as long as it is, I'll use it. But if it ever stops working, I'll have to sit a while and think up something new. Or google it. Or look through some motivational books to find something new. Or discuss it with a long lost friend. Or post it on FB and wait for responses. Or ask the dust bunnies-you know, the ones behind the freezer in the corner of the basement.

Anonymous said...

LOL Debo - If those dust bunnies answer you, be afraid, be very afraid. I had a dream once that I got 'the call' while cleaning the refrigerator. Maybe I was cleaning the refrigerator while procrastinating writing something else? My screensaver right now says - "Writing is a Struggle against Silence. from Carlos Fuentes" Right now the silence is winning, but it doesn't always have to be that way.

Rox Delaney said...

I think Reese and Pat have nailed it. Having a goal and being accountable can make all the difference.

Melissa Robbins said...

Funny, I would much rather write than clean. My procrastination this week is sending out queries. Just thinking about them makes me want to throw up.

Penny Rader said...

I hear you, Tammy. Procrastination kicks my behind on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

I keep planning to organize a support group for procrastinators...but I keep putting it off. ;D