Is ‘Procrastination’ Really A Bad Word?

Is ‘Procrastination’ Really A Bad Word?

As I type this, I am waiting eagerly for a response from my favourite agent.  I even dared to prod her after five weeks of sending my whole manuscript.  Today I emailed and admitted I was struggling with patience, even though ‘I know I’m supposed to’.  

Since I’ve been waiting, I haven’t hung around.  I have submitted to a further two agents (one rejection, one still-waiting), diarised chase-dates and targets, entered five competitions, signed up for several workshops (about Plotting, Adding Suspense, Using Your Senses, Adding Depth To Writing etc), bought and read some text books, downloaded and indulged in some self-help eBooks, signed up for NaNoWriMo (I won’t get anywhere with this) and set up a planned Twitter page for my writer’s group.

Additionally, I’ve begun to plot another novel and tried to keep this blog up-to-date.  These are the most difficult, of course – because it’s writing.  The rest is, I am sure, procrastination – i.e. not-writing.

But, here I am, writing a blog, not my book, and daring to think that procrastination could be a GOOD THING! The term seems to be a bit like a swear word, a guilty pleasure, something to be ashamed of – you’re just filling time with ridiculous, uneventful shit,  like Angry Birds or Jeremy Kyle (though you could get good material from that programme), reading celebzines, or indulging in social media (dammit!), instead of… WRITING.

I do believe that that nothing good can come from that type of idling, but when the term is used to describe doing anything other than writing, it becomes confusing – as if doing anything other than writing is bad.  I don’t think that social media was invented to facilitate procrastination.  When we run any business, do any job, we need to make people aware of what we do, or what we offer and who else is doing the same thing.  Social media is an ideal way to achieve this.  It’s impossible to build a business without market research, a SWOT analysis, identifying new opportunities, analysing our competitors, detailing our branding and allocating price.  And further impossible to effectuate these things, unless they are written down in something we call a Business Plan.  This is how a new business structures its design and builds a platform to start from.  It’s how an entrepreneur gets to know a market.  And they network – meet people and learn from them; they even administrate in order to be organised enough to launch a product.  In other words, at least two thirds of a entrepreneur’s time is spent on other things than making the product.  So why, in the writing world, by applying the same things, is it called procrastination?

I admit when you work from home, it’s easy to just finish the hoovering, and it’s hard to motivate yourself for the same amount of time as if you were chained to a desk in an office.  I think, unless you are Barbara Cartland who wrote  twenty-six  books  in  one year (that’s  one  every  two  weeks by the way),  it’s simply natural to ‘procrastinate.’  Already today I’ve done the laundry, made a cake and created some home-made dog-treats (and I’ve yet to walk said canines).  Now I’ve got those things out of the way, I am STILL procrastinating… or am I?  I have discovered that procrastinating opens up a whole world of ideas.   A moment ago I was on Twitter and Facebook (yes, I was!).  For research purposes – seriously!  I came across a whole host of ideas.  And then, with those ideas, I got down to the business of writing.  I completed a whole plot plan for a set of chapters.  That’s a big step.  And in this process I learned a few new things too, and found a few new contacts.  Let’s face it, without procrastinating, I would never have come across my good friends at Writer’s & Artists.  What I mean is, if you’re procrastinating about your subject matter, and you limit the time you do so, then it’s not such a bad thing.  If the need to go on Twitter tempts you, go for it – you may well come across something completely worthwhile, something that diminishes your block and sets your fingers whizzing across the keyboard, getting that idea down in paper.  Procrastination doesn’t have to be bad.

To summarise, I have written Ten Ways to Make Procrastination A Good Thing.  Happy procrastinating!

  • Make a new Twitter contact
  • Think of a new character name (you don’t have to use him/her/it yet).
  • Find a tutorial or workshop that inspires you
  • Book a place on it
  • Read the first paragraph of your favourite book
  • Make a list of words you would like to use in the first paragraph of your next chapter (don’t include those you’ve just read!)
  • Do some Pilates and think about your next chapter
  • Walk the dog and think about your next chapter
  • Meditate for ten minutes
  •  Listen to your heart and not your mind

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