The Art of Procrastinating

I don’t intentionally procrastinate, but … it does happen. A lot.

I’m off work today as a part of a staycation that began on Friday. In addition to our little getaway to Seven Springs Mountain Resort, my goal was to get some ‘housekeeping’ stuff done with my websites and other things relating to my writing and ‘side hustles’ outside of my full-time day job. The primary focus was to be on doing some edits/rewriters for an upper-YA fiction novel I wrote, like, three years ago, and, to keep on writing the first draft of another fiction book I have in the works.

I’ve done everything but. I’ve cleaned and organized my home office. I did a 30-minute Instagram Live where I mostly talked about #FreeBritney. I added custom covers to all of my IG Story Highlights. I updated my Arthritis Ashley blog, and this website. I worked on PR for Buffalo Bill’s House. (buffalobillshouse.com!)

I scheduled doctor’s appointments. I put in some hours with my current diamond painting work-in-progress. I actively avoided exercise. I tended to my ever-growing collection of houseplants.

I made docs and spreadsheets — boy, did I ever! I have a “Notes” doc for each of 4 books that I’m either currently working on or daydreaming about. I updated a spreadsheet with 20+ past and present book ideas. I, for no reason at all, created a spreadsheet with ALL of my DNA & genealogy testing results: Everlywell, Orig3n, 23andMe, Ancestry, you name it! I have a doc solely devoted to notes and research for an eventual podcast.

I got stuff together for our taxes. I uploaded birdwatching photos to my desktop computer. I updated the software on my laptop. I donated books and clothes and practiced my guitar. I wrote and sent out Valentine’s cards to friends and family. I did stuff for my part-time contract gig with Healthline.

I am currently writing this blog.

And lots more that I’m likely forgetting.

BUT ASK ME IF I WORKED ON MY BOOKS.

The answer? No.

Yes – the main purpose of me taking 3 days off work was, in fact, to work on my books.

I just didn’t. Not yet.

It’s only 1:30 on Tuesday. I don’t have to be back at work until 8am tomorrow, or, if I want, as late as noon tomorrow. So — there’s still plenty of time to get in some edits and/or some writing.

I just feel overwhelmed, and as per usual, I’m psyching myself out. For example, I had been putting off organizing our hallway linen closet for 2 years. I did it the other day; it took 20 minutes. All that procrastination and stressing over it because it felt like some big, daunting task and … it was super-easy, super-quick, and I felt a LOT better after getting it done.

I need to continually recall that experience, and actually learn something from it, and then apply it to my writing.

One one hand, getting alllll of those mostly-unrelated things done clears up some mental space and clutter for me to focus on my books (outside of working hours) from here on out. So, it’s good — getting all of that done in recent days has given me some extra bandwidth, which is a plus.

But, on the other hand, I can feel the self-sabotage kicking in. The thought distortions. “It’s too late now. I may as well binge-watch something on Netflix. Or take a nap.”

I just have to remind myself that something is better than nothing. If I can even get a few pages in or a few chapters edited, it’s farther along than I was a day or a week or even a month ago. And, in the world of writing, that is something.

People don’t often realize how much is involved in being a novelist and getting books published. If you’re like me and live with some anxiety… and low self-esteem/confidence…and imposter syndrome… and some obsessive tendencies, it’s even harder!

You have to write the thing. Then you have to whittle the thing down. Then you have to get an editor. Then you have to, like, actually DO all the edits, which often takes longer than the writing. My upper-YA novel was completed a couple of years ago. It was nearly 140,000 words which is fairly ridiculous for any novel that isn’t sci-fi/fantasy … and, especially ridiculous for YA. I needed – and still need – to get it down to closer in the 60,000-80,000-word range. That’s on top of some major rewrites and edits that I need to complete. Then, I’ll likely need an editor to look at it again. This will be the … 3rd? 4th? time an editor has taken a peek. Then… maybe some more edits. Finally, I have to put together a query letter and begin pitching agents.

That will mostly result in rejection.

But — if there’s even a slight chance I get picked up by an agent, and said agent gets my book picked up by a publisher, then … yay! All of the torment was worth it. Probably. And, if not … there’s always self-publishing.

Yet, here I am, still procrastinating, because all of that just seems too daunting. At least, I’m in my home office right now, instead of, say, in my sunroom diamond painting and watching a true crime documentary like I was an hour ago.

I’m listening to Vitamin String Quartet, surrounded by some of my healing crystals, all-things-Rae-Dunn, a Kyle Skin candle that smells like beautiful gardenia (and please don’t judge because Kylie Jenner makeup and skincare — and, apparently, candles – is all pretty amazing), my space heater, and piles and piles of books.

I’m cozy. I’m wearing Crocs. My dogs are being quiet. (My parrot, not so much.) I have a Starbucks chai tea latte in a Jonathan Van Ness mug on a coaster with a quote from Shakespeare. Watercolor portraits of some of my favs look on: Gavin Rossdale, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Freddy Mercury.

It’s time to write.

Wish me luck, and have a great day.

-A

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