There’s a link on the NaNo website that used to take you to Procrastination Station–a page full of things to do when you want to avoid writing your novel.
I’m not sure anyone needs a Procrastination Station–most of us can find plenty of ways to procrastinate without any help from others. At least, I can.
I have noticed that most of the people I know (myself included) tend to have a similar pattern when we have a big task to accomplish, such as writing a 50,000-word novel in one month (yay, NaNo!) or completing a short story. No matter what the task, the pattern of procrastination is the same.
When we procrastinate, not only do we not do the thing we want to (committed to/agreed to/contracted to) do, but we also stop doing anything else enjoyable or fulfilling in our lives.
We tend to “multi-shirk” by watching bad TV or cleaning out a closet. We do the chores we have to do but we don’t allow ourselves to have any fun.
We basically tell ourselves we can’t have fun until the big task is done.
But the more we punish ourselves for not doing the thing we said we’d do, the more we procrastinate.
So, the best way I have found to deal with procrastination is to give myself permission to do the things that bring me joy, even if those things have nothing to do with getting my novel completed (or the blog post written). I find when I allow myself to go running in the park, I’m much more likely to come home and decide to sit down at my computer and get something done on my novel.
When we deprive ourselves of small pleasures because we “have to” get something done, we feel punished and our resistance increases.
If our lives are full of moments of fun, tackling that writing project becomes less stressful.
Any project is more doable when we are living a life of joy and fulfillment, which starts with figuring out what we enjoy.
My list includes things as small as a decaf latte and as important as conversations with my sisters. Other things that feed my soul are playing outside with my son, cooking for my family without any distractions, and reading.
There have been times when I didn’t allow any of these things—either because I created a life when I really didn’t have time for most of these things (can you say “med school?”) or because I simply didn’t give myself permission to do them.
Now I feed my soul as often as possible. And I procrastinate much less. I get my butt in the chair more often, usually with a good cup of coffee to my left and a picture of my son to my right. Such simple pleasures!
What are the things that fill you up? Do you allow yourself small pleasures, even when you are under a deadline?
Diane MacKinnon: is a writer, blogger, life coach, mother, and family physician. I’m behind on NaNo, but I’ve made a start and I know I’ll get there!