The future Mrs Equiatic Bind (or Mrs Snakesonaplane Fallon) recently set me one of her challenges. Write 12,000 words of the book by the end of this year. I did some calculations and from when she set this challenge to the end of the year was 20 something days and through the magic of maths I found I could reach my goal by writing 400 and something words a day.
And yet life did that annoying thing it does of getting in the way of my plans and goals.
Now I’m a young man (28) with a full-time job but also no kids and my nearest family member lives 4,000 km away. I have no real obligations outside of work and yet the time to sit and write kept alluding me. It would be so close and then suddenly it would be gone in a haze of me getting the flu for a week. Yeah, it was hard to type when my fingers hurt. And then I had to visit the doctor about my aching knee which turned into five appointments and an MRI. It turned out I had runner’s knee and have to do nearly an hour of knee exercises each night.
Time, no, come back, don’t go.
Anyway long story short work kept getting in the way then the flu then the knee then Christmas shopping and so on and so on until last Friday when the government closed my school because of the snow.
This snow day could be the day that I will break the back of my work, I declared that morning as my fiancee slept and I painfully tensed my knees loads and loads of times.
And then it started happening again. I wrote some words that morning and then just stopped and found my mind was blank.
It suddenly became frightfully important that I check my Facebook and my Tumblr and the stats on my blog and The AV Club and Pinterest and so on and so on.
Now sometimes a bit of procrastination can be good. If you decide that you cannot write in a dirty house and clean your house from top to bottom then, yes, you haven’t written anything but at least your house is clean. Sitting in front of your laptop reading Captain America comics and scratching your ass is less good.
In the end though I managed to write 1,200 words that afternoon and the trick was to make my character procrastinate. Luckily for me I had come to a point where my hero, James Darling, needed to write an article for his paper. Originally I had the idea that he would sit at his typewriter and knock out a really terrible article as quick as possible. Instead I incorporated my suffering into his story. I gave him my distracted mind and then amped it up by a thousand.
If I was feeling paranoid and a little afraid of failing then James was staring himself down in mirrors and hearing his father’s voice admonish his failures and having to claw his way out of an abyss of doubt and fear. If I couldn’t stop internet browsing then James couldn’t stop counting the steps it took to cross his hotel room or how many cigarettes he had smoked.
In the end when he does write a terrible article (that was always going to happen) its after he has had to force himself to the page and really poured all of his effort into it so when it is terrible the heartbreak and embarrassment is upped considerably.
I wrote this little piece for my own benefit really. If it can help anyone or anyone can offer some other tips for dealing with procrastination then I am all ears.
Actually I will say one more thing. If you are using Chrome as your browser download Stayfocusd, its a extension that blocks certain websites. The appealing thing for me is that it gives you a time limit on how long you can browse those sites before they get blocked (I usually give myself ten minutes) and that way you can give yourself a treat between paragraphs but can’t get lost in a website because the clock is ticking. There is also the Go Nuclear option which blocks your chosen blocked websites for a predetermined amount of time leaving you to work in peace.
Thanks for listening.
Oh and Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.