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12/04/2001 - DEFEATING PROCRASTINATION
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DEFEATING PROCRASTINATION

My Fellow Writers,

Ah, the holiday season. With holiday cards, shopping, decorating, and parties, we writers have more excuses than ever not to write. Procrastination becomes a high art.

Here's a little trick to beat it this holiday season - or at least perhaps make it work for you:

This notion starts with the simple premise that writing is very, very difficult. Even if you love it, to do it right is painful, grueling mental exertion - at least some of the time.

That's why it's so easy to procrastinate. Almost anything would be more pleasant than suffering through a block of writer's block or facing another minute of evidence that you simply can't write (or so you've told yourself for an hour straight). Thus, you go do something else.

All right, it's not brain surgery, but here's the trick: think of another activity you like even less than the most painful aspects of writing. Scrubbing the toilet, for instance. Mowing the lawn, paying bills, going jogging in the rain - anything that seems more painful than writing. Maybe even your nine-to-five job -- the one you're trying to leave behind for a writing career.

When you want to turn away from your writing project, force yourself to go do the even-more-unpleasant task. Try to make it a short task - something that takes 30 minutes or so will do just fine to get you back to writing. Sometimes, I can alternate all day between annoying tasks and writing.

The great thing is, you need an occasional break from writing anyway. The advantage with this trick is that you also manage to get done with some chores and other unpleasant "to do" items that you would have eventually had to do anyway.

One of my favorite procrastination beaters is to make business calls any time I'm not writing. This gives me the added benefit of keeping up the business side of my writing career -- so even if I'm not actually writing, I'm still doing something productive.

A slight variation on this procrastination-beating trick is to just alternate between two projects. That way, when you lose steam on one, you just switch to the other one.

Even though all of these techniques are very simple, if you're a really skilled procrastinator, you'll probably put off trying this until at least the new year. But take my word for it - give it a go and you'll look back on much more productive days in the future.

Pro procrastinator,

Grady
(EmailGrady@aol.com)

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