Managing Procrastination and Getting the Work Done

April first and no fooling, it’s time to embark on my Camp Nanowrimo writing project. I’ll be writing 1,200 words a day, every day this month. So when I saw the article titled: Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self Control), in the New York Times last week it seemed apropos. It’s a long read and at risk of encouraging said procrastination, I recommend it. In it Lieberman argues that:

“Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.”

This insight is particularly important for writers because crafting meaningful narratives that have emotional resonance requires us to access our lived experiences and to practice empathy. We need to allow ourselves to feel deeply when we imagine and remember experiences that run the gamut of emotions from thrilling to terribly painful. As any writer knows, it’s hard work – hard emotional work.

Of course people avoid work for all sorts of reasons, but acknowledging the emotional labor required to create a deeply-felt story is a useful tool in managing the time and resources needed to get the work done. That’s why I titled this post “managing” procrastination. If procrastination is tied to our emotions, and we cannot “defeat” or “banish” them, then we must work with them. I think it is more useful to acknowledge the push-pull of time, tasks, and emotions – especially when the task is one that requires us to venture inward and draw out something that has emotional weight and impact.

That said, in How to Defeat Procrastination With the Psychology of Emotional Intelligence, Christopher Rim offers a few more tools for understanding the mechanisms of procrastination. Including this gem:

“Perfectionism is procrastination’s Instagram persona. It may look like perfection, but it’s actually underperformance. The more perfection you strive for, the less you’ll accomplish.”

As the saying goes: done is better than perfect. So that’s my goal for this month, every day, one day at a time, find a way to get 1,200 words down.

BTW there are still a couple of spots in the Armadillocon Camp Nanowrimo cabin. I’m on the site as curiousworlds – message me there or comment below for an invite. It’s never too late to set a daily goal!

Join me at the Armadillocon Cabin at Camp Nanowrimo this April.

Do you have two thumbs and some writing to accomplish in April? I know I do. I did a traditional National Novel Writing Month YEARS ago and enjoyed it for what it was. While I did NOT get a viable novel out of it, I did love the camaraderie. And publicly stating – and tracking – my word-count goals over that month was productive. I’ve got a novel to finish this spring so when notification about April’s Camp Nano came around it felt like kismet.

April also happens to be a great time to generate material if you are considering signing up for the Armadillocon Writing Workshop. The deadline to submit a 5,000 (or less) word story is Friday, June 14. That means as of May 1, you would have a solid six weeks to revise and polish something for the workshop.

I like Nanowrimo because you can set whatever goals work for you. Sure, the standard template is 50,000 words in a month, but that is only a suggestion. I need about 25,000-30,000 more words to finish out my novel and I also want to get back to blogging, so I’m setting a goal of 35,000 words next month. That works out to about 1,450 words six days a week, which I know is doable for me. 1,000 daily words on the novel and the rest can go to blogging.

Be creative, think about what serves YOUR writing next month. Maybe you have revisions to work on. Revising four pages (in standard manuscript format) per day = 1,000 words. Maybe you like to revise as you go or just move through your drafts more slowly, set a goal of 250 words a day (one double spaced page), that would be 7,500 word goal for the month. A perfectly reasonable goal as writing is about quality over quantity, IMHO.

So, if you think an endeavor like this will serve your writing, it would be my pleasure to write-along with you. I’ve created an “Armadillocon-or-Bust” cabin. If you would like an invite to the cabin, make a profile at Camp Nano and then leave a comment here with your Nano handle.

If you’re not writing for the Armadillocon workshop you can still find me at Camp Nano in April as Curiousworlds.

See you in the word mines!