Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Just Do It!

by Pat Stoltey

Sunday morning I did something I haven't done in a long time. After I finished reading the paper, I poured a cup of coffee and went into the living room for a thinking session. There's a special chair in there for meditating or puzzling through a problem. It's a beige swivel rocker that can be turned toward the picture window. Rocking seems to help my thinking process, moving it along in a way. The motion is calming, and don't we all think better when we're calm?

What I needed to think about was:

Reading, critiquing, blogging, and tweeting,
Lallygagging, sleeping, gardening, and eating,
There's not enough time to do them all,
Who in the flying hell do I call?

For help, I mean. Is there such a thing as procrastination-busters? A group dedicated to breaking the television/movie habit? How about a twelve-step method for beating the "meet me for coffee at Starbucks" or "let's do lunch" addiction?

The same two manuscripts I was talking about three months ago, one that needed "one more good read" and the other that was ready for revisions, have somehow been dumped back into the "one more good read" category. They're printed out, sitting on the otherwise clean and dust free dining room table, waiting patiently.

Meanwhile, I'm fiddling with my own blog and making contacts to schedule more guest bloggers, collecting information for the Chiseled in Rock posts, doing what needs to be done to publish my second Sylvia and Willie mystery on Kindle and Nook, and playing Spider Solitaire. I had two raised garden beds installed, so I'm outside more, watering and finding new things to plant. I'm planning a couple of trips to visit family, and Skyping with the granddaughter and her mommy and daddy as often as their schedule permits. I rewrite my To Do List daily, but I've recently noticed it doesn't have anything on it about daily writing time.

What is it about sitting down to write or revise, or to send out those queries and submissions, that's so difficult? I see the question pondered over and over by writers. I did get a little poke from my Horoscope on Sunday though. (Yes, I read my Horoscope. When you stop giggling, read on.) It said:

"It won't help you to be a perfectionist now. Get your work out there in whatever form it happens to exist, at least to a small audience who would help you take it to the next level."

So I thought and thought and rocked and rocked. What I finally decided as I sipped my coffee and rocked is this: Revising my manuscripts forever is one more form of procrastination. It's a lot of work compiling a list of agents and/or publishers, checking out the submission guidelines, writing a separate query for each one, logging the submissions on a spreadsheet, and on and on.

It's painful waiting for replies to queries that never come. And what if an agent or publisher likes a book and wants me to produce another one in a year? Could I do that? On the other hand, what if every rejection is accompanied by constructive feedback, but all the feedback is different? What will I do then? Maybe I better revise the novels one more time before I send those queries.

So Sunday morning I rocked, thought about my procrastination as irrational fear, took a deep breath and let it out. I felt better. Even felt a little bit like working on that final proofread and putting together my agent list with notes on submission guidelines for each. Just do it, I thought. Just do it.

But first, I set the sun tea jug outside, wrote this blog post and pre-scheduled it for today, pre-scheduled Bailey Cates' (aka Cricket McRae) post on my own blog for yesterday, dug up the dying lavender plant near the house and replaced it with gladiolus bulbs, and scheduled a Super Shuttle pickup to the airport for my upcoming trip.

And so it goes.

This is an updated version of a 2010 post on my own blog.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - No doubt about it, the submission process is difficult, time-consuming and can be hard to take. Little wonder it's so tempting to not just put your head down and do it. That part of being a writer isn't fun.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

There's always to much to do and it is tempting to shove the less pleasant items aside.

Beth Groundwater said...

I find the key to fighting procrastination is goal-setting, SMALL goal-setting. I break up a large task into small bits (like "finding an agent" becomes "send out one query" or "research two agents"), then write one of the small bits on my daily To Do list. There, I don't have to do that BIG thing I've been procrastinating about, just that BITTY task that's on my TO Do list for today.

Vicki said...

No fair ... you've been spying on me!

Beth, I love your idea of breaking it into smaller bits. So ... I'll just DO IT!

Patricia Stoltey said...

All suggestions are appreciated. But first... :D