TwistedPaper's picture
TwistedPaper from Poland is reading "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe & "Seven Wonders" by Adam Christopher October 15, 2011 - 4:09am

Hi, sorry if it's a double post, I couldn't find anything about it earlier here.

So, I'm dealing with huge problem of procrastination - for example, for a whole day I'm gathering ideas in my head and getting highly anxious to write something hot; then I'm taking computer, quickly put my fingers on the keyboard... and start to checking websites, reading some e-books or comics, getting into absolutely pointless conversation with friends, stuff like that. Without a goddamn one new word for hours. I wrote a lot earlier but now that procrastination thing start to look like a serious sickness. Do any of You bearing with something similar? Any advices besides brain surgery?

simon morris's picture
simon morris from Originally, Philadelphia, PA; presently Miami Beach, FL is reading This Body of Death, by Elizabeth George October 15, 2011 - 6:45am

My advice is: Start writing something. It doesn't matter where you start.; A story doesn't start at the beginning in a first rough draft. That is what editing is all about.

Watch ...

A room. A room with a view. A room with a view of the sea.

A man. A man hunched over a keyboard contemplating, the susceration of the sea forming a soothing background to his musings. His fingers curled above the keys waiting--for what he cannot be certain.

Where is she today, he thought? So young, so bright, so hopeful. Has she crashed upon the shoals or spun her magic web across the seas?

Her name is Ellen, musical, magical Ellen. A picture of contrasts right down to her color-shifting eyes.

Ellen was nine and I was ten when we first met behind old Jack Henry's barn. She was chasing a calico kitten and I was simply wandering with no particular goal. Mrs Miller, my teacher said, "Your Mom ought to keep you on a lease because I wandered so."


I had no idea what word two would be when I wrote word one but I now have the seeds of a form of story called a reminiscence if I choose to write it. That exercise took about two minutes and I have a potential story emerging that I hadn't though about until your post created the need to use it to demonstrate a point as to how creativity works. It doesn't co+me full-birthed when you sit down. It is a stream of consciousness that emerges and shifts as ideas are rendered into words.

I admit that after I wrote the piece above I already went back into it and fleshed it out and almost doubled its volume. How did I begin? I am sitting at my desk with the sea outside my window so I started a piece of fiction with a sliver of reality and it grew from there. I happen to love the name Ellen. It would have been my daughter's name if she hadn't been born a son! The rest? The thoughts began forming as I began writing. I have no idea where it is going. I've never been there.

Don't you love it when you tell yourself a story you have never heard before? To me, nonfiction is a well-written presentation of facts and conclusions while fiction is a well-written presentation of truths and possibilities.

Procrastination is simply a label for someone who fears to take action and wants a socially acceptable pigeonhole in which to avoid the hard truth. Fear is so much less politically correct than "procrastination."

I won't apologize for being hard on you. Writing for publication is not for those who do not risk or dare. Coming here is a risk because you put yourself out there where people can say their truths to you--even if they do not all apply. It is for you to pick the wheat and discard the chaff.

wickedvoodoo's picture
wickedvoodoo from Mansfield, England is reading stuff. October 15, 2011 - 8:01am

It is easy to be led to distraction with the internet and such. Maybe you should try writing away from your computer? Go to the library, or someplace that will let you sit and work for a while.

I like the egg-timer idea that Palahniuk wrote about in one of his essays. Unplug the modem and turn off your phone then set a timer for an hour. Force yourself to write for that time. When the alarm rings you can bail if you aren't feeling it and you only lost an hour of your day, or if you managed to get into the swing then great just keep going.

I'm a bit of a hypocrite mind, because I don't usually do these things and yes, I often end up distracted.


Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 15, 2011 - 10:07am

Yeah, Simon has the right idea.  Sometimes it's easier if you can just get some words down to get in the mindset of writing.  Rant about your day if you need to.

I've got the Internet distraction thing too.  My system for this is that if I sit down at 3:46 or whatever, I tell myself that I can check all my Twitter and Facebook bullshit at 5:00, smoke, and then get back to work for another hour and a half or whatever.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 15, 2011 - 10:31am

I believe the American solution is amphetamines. Or at least it is supposed to be. Personally nowadays when I do take Adderall I still get really focused, but never on work, and I usually just spend six or seven hours masturbating.

My personal solution for this sort of thing, when I have writers block or just don't have the "will" to write, I change mediums. Draw some pictures, jot down a poem, play some piano, and after doing enough things that I'm not as good at I decide "you know, I could write prose" and then I get on that.

But I do have a weakness for internet forums, they tend to distract the hell out of me. Another thing I do is that when I start getting into the "playing on the internet" trance I stand up, go for a drive around the block or ride my bicycle around the parking lot of my apartment complex, and come back for a fresh start at the process.

D Michael Hardy's picture
D Michael Hardy from Tampa, FL October 15, 2011 - 10:35am

Another option I find helpful...if you have a laptop (and most do) take it somewhere comfortable, a coffee shop or bookstore or maybe your local pub, but somewhere that doesn't get internet connection. That way you can use your computer to write and not be distracted by the temptations of the internet.

TwistedPaper's picture
TwistedPaper from Poland is reading "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe & "Seven Wonders" by Adam Christopher October 16, 2011 - 12:15pm

Thanks for all advices, You people are great.

@simon: I need serious kick-start, so being hard is more than necessary :)

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind October 17, 2011 - 11:57am

What I like to do is set up a reward system for myself. Sometimes it's hard to write, hard to meet your word count goal. When writing isn't your main job, it's hard for friends and family to see it as anything more than a hobby--and that label can sometimes infect your views of it, too. Why go to work 9+ hours a day, come home, and do more work? If writing is just a past time like video games or cable, what's it matter if I decide not to do it for a day? There are so many distractions!
What I started doing is I'll set up a word count goal for the month. I tell myself, "If I can meet this goal, I'll ________ to reward myself." that can be taking myself out to a fancy dinner, or buying myself something I've been wanting--it can be anything. Sure, you can do that stuff anyway, but to use it as a goal really helps to get your butt in gear.
Of course, once you make a habit of writing x number of words a day, it gets much easier. Distractions are less appealing, goals don't matter anymore. You write and you write and when a day passes where you know you should have written but couldn't, you just feel gross, as if you forgot to brush your teeth that morning. 


Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 17, 2011 - 12:45pm

For me the hardest thing is opening the file. Once I've done that I can't help doing stuff with it. Cut to two hours later and I've got another 2K words down.