Twin Engines of Creativity

          I don’t know much about jet airplanes, but I have watched enough TV and movies to realize there are at least two engines. According to those dramas, a jet plane can still fly even if an engine stops working. It’s not easy nor incredibly safe (which makes good drama opportunity, right?), but it is possible. (There are also small twin-engine planes, but I’m not sure they can fly on only one engine, which means they won’t fit my analogy.)

          This week we are talking about creative breakthroughs. Until recently, I would have said you must be working in order to have a creative breakthrough. How could you break through anything if you aren’t pushing on it? However, as we explored last week, procrastination can actually aid in production. I’ve come to realize that creative breakthroughs are powered by the twin engines of creative discipline and creative procrastination.

          Discipline creates an infrastructure that can support the creativity. The discipline of just “showing up” for work creates a routine that ensures there is time to accomplish the creative work. When a routine time is scheduled (and guarded) for writing and only writing is done during that time, there is a guarantee something will be written. It might not be fantastic; it may not be a breakthrough; but it will be consistent. That consistency creates an environment of productivity as well as giving direction and forward momentum. It doesn’t matter if I am consistently writing every day or only writing from 2-3pm on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays or for some extended time on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. It’s not the when that matters. It is the consistency. That consistent time for writing, or any other creative endeavor, programs the mind to be ready to work.

          Creative procrastination is the other engine that powers the jet plane of our creative productivity, creating an environment conducive to creative breakthroughs. If an engine is run constantly, it eventually gives out. In the same way, if we are always “on”, always trying to produce something, we’ll eventually burn out. Even when we do have a breakthrough, we may not have the energy to follow through. As we all discussed last week, taking a break from our work, even totally ignoring or abandoning it for a time, can actually make us more productive.

          Taking a break gives our “creative brain” or consciousness a rest. The pressure to produce is removed for a time. Just as several hours of sleep can totally refresh us even though the body is still “working,” so a break from our writing can refresh us even though our subconscious mind, muse, or whatever you want to call it, is most likely still be working on the project. In addition, the activities we engage in during those breaks provide input of new ideas and experiences that fuels our inspiration. That time away from the project allows us to be refreshed and re-energized, returning to the project with new ideas and new enthusiasm.

          I’ve come to believe consistent productivity can only be achieved with a finely tuned balance of creative discipline and creative procrastination. I’m in the process of tuning that balance.

Embracing the Procrastination Monster

          Procrastination is the theme of this week’s blogs. Seems appropriate since I have procrastinated writing this blog. Of course, I’ve procrastinated a lot of times in the past year or so, haven’t I? Even when it hasn’t been obvious, I’ve probably procrastinated. Procrastination is a part of my being. I can’t seem to get away from it. No matter how I berate myself or attempt to establish better routines or struggle with this issue, I can’t seem to eliminate procrastination from my life.

          I’m learning during this season of my life the need to re-evaluate how I view myself. I’m combatting negative voices, inside and out, that have a grain of truth to them. That makes them vicious if I don’t spend time evaluating them with a dose of truth and reality. All these years I’ve heard and believed that procrastination is wrong, never useful, something to be rooted out and destroyed. Those times procrastination worked to my advantage were flukes. Or so I was told. Now I’m not so sure. Yes, there are negatives to procrastination. We all know that. Tasks remain undone, projects falter or fail, opportunities are missed. Life is difficult on so many levels when we procrastinate. That is fact.

          Like any tool, though, it can be used. A drill can make holes for bolts or destroy a beautiful piece of furniture. A baseball bat is useful for hitting softballs across a field or even as a weapon to thwart a burglar. In the hands of that burglar, though, it is a tool of destruction. Fire, when controlled is a source of heat and light. When uncontrolled, it kills and destroys. Water is another source of life that we can’t live without, but out of control and overabundance of water is destructive. Like fire, water, or any tools we might use, procrastination can be wielded in ways that enable and increase productivity or damage and destroy it.

          As you may remember, I am back in college, attempting to earn a degree in design and technology. Over the past two semesters I’ve procrastinated on several assignments. Sometimes because of time constraints, but often because I lacked inspiration or confidence. Like the resume I had to write, but couldn’t figure out how to present my non-traditional experience and skill sets. (I’m a college student, but older. I’m older, but haven’t worked in the workplace for 25+ years. I haven’t worked in the workplace, but I have lots of experience and skills that are marketable.) Or the PowerPoint presentation where I almost took too long to choose a topic. I may talk about these and more in the coming weeks as they illustrate some major breakthroughs in the way I view myself and my creative process. Those and others were instrumental in helping me realize procrastination can be a useful, if potentially dangerous tool.

          I’m taking an English Composition class. It’s required as a general course for my degree. I could have chosen to CLEP out of it, but I’m hoping it will jump-start my desire to write, which seems to be in a coma. (Or has it flat-lined? I guess I’ll find out this semester.) In Monday’s class, the instructor reviewed how best to write an in-class essay. Namely, the importance of pre-writing. He demonstrated webbing, aka mind-mapping or clustering. (Here’s a blog I wrote on mind-mapping.) During the lecture, he stressed that pre-writing was the backbone of a composition. The more pre-writing is done, the faster and easier the writing flows.

          I know this, but I balk at it. Not because I don’t believe it, but because I tend more toward freewriting as my style of brainstorming/pre-writing. (He presented that as a valid method of pre-writing for at-home papers, but not for in-class essays.) However, he’s right. I need to utilize a better pre-writing method for the in-class essays he assigns. It may even help with my personal writing. Toward that end, I decided to experiment. I used the pre-write/write/re-write method he suggested to prepare this blog post. First, I mind-mapped my thoughts. After doing that, I organized them (loosely) into a plan. Only then did I start writing.

          While I ended up with something a little different from the pre-writing plan I envisioned, it is not drastically different. I did fudge a bit on his instructions, moving into writing before completely finished with pre-writing. (My style of using the freewriting method to gather thoughts/plan is ingrained pretty deep.) I’m also not sure where I finished writing and moved into rewriting. Those two steps seemed to happen simultaneously. However, I wrote this in the 1 ½ hours I had between two classes. I then spent another 15 minutes after class revising and polishing before I uploaded it to the website. If I’d written this over the weekend instead of procrastinating, I would still have come up with a reasonably written article. If I’d not procrastinated, though, I would not have this example to share and it would have taken me approximately an extra hour to complete.

          Procrastination. Maybe it’s time to embrace this monster.

When Shouldn’t I Write?

There are so many writers out there telling us what we should/must do in order to be successful. I am grateful to everyone who is willing to share in order to help others find their way. But I am somewhat less grateful to those who couch their advice in terms of “should” and “must.”

I believe that all of us find our own best path when it comes to how we get things done. For some people, their best path is one that takes more time – seemingly wasting time to others who appear more efficient. For instance, some writers write multiple versions of scenes before they decide which direction they want to go. Other writers decide first and write one draft. Who has the best path? Sometimes the easiest way to understand this concept of finding your own path is to use something you don’t do well as an example.

I don’t cook very well. I have a few dishes that I can make pretty tasty every time – I just made John and Doug bacon-wrapped meatloaf for dinner – but mostly I despise cooking only a little more than I hate cleaning up. I would LOVE to be wealthy enough to have someone cook and clean for me every day for the rest of my life!

So when I do cook, if someone or something convinces me to try something new, I have found that I should double the prep time. One time, it took me 2 1/2 hours to prepare lasagna wraps out of the “easy” Betty Crocker cookbook. The prep time in the cookbook was 45 minutes.  John was pretty starving hungry by the time we ate that night.

Looking at something I don’t do well and rarely enjoy, it’s easier to see how to adjust other people’s “should’s” to work for me, easier than trying to apply it to something I do pretty well and enjoy, like writing. Following me so far?

Stephanie and I were on a writing retreat once where she did all the cooking and I did all the grocery shopping. I ate like a Queen that week! Steph laughed at me so many times when I gushed about how good her food was, and she kept insisting it was so easy. She eventually learned that cooking is not easy for me.

Now compare all the writing advice you’ve heard. I’d guess that over 90% of the advice you hear works for the person who said it. (I suspect that some people tell you what they believe to be the best way to do something even though they haven’t been able to be completely successful doing it that way.) But just because it works for someone, or lots of someones, doesn’t mean it will work for me or for you.

Take writing every day for example. I do believe that working consistently is the best way to build structure and habits and routines that will get you through the hard times when you don’t know what to write, or when life keeps you from writing as much as you used to. But I don’t believe every writer needs to write 5 or 6 or 7 days a week, rain or shine or Christmas or funeral, in order to be successful.

I’ve found that a menu system works better for me. I work every day, 4-7 days a week, but I don’t write every day. Some days I’ll write for 8 or 10 hours, other days I’ll do other “business of writing” work for the whole day. My brain works smoother and more fully when I do only one or two major tasks a day. I’ll spend an entire day doing a week’s worth or a month’s worth of accounting rather than take a few minutes every day. That’s the menu item I chose on that day. On another day, I’ll choose to write all my blogs for the next week or two. On a different day, I’ll spend most of the day researching, reading, and journaling to get my thoughts stirred up or organized.

So how do I know when I “should” write if I don’t have a specific schedule? Well, first let me say I’m curing myself of the “should’s.” But how do I know if I’m choosing what Stephanie calls creative procrastination or if I’m really procrastinating or being lazy? That’s a tough question. I don’t have the answer for me, let alone you. But I will say that asking yourself the question in the first place will often give you a gut feeling as to which one you’re in now.

Most of you know I’ve had a pretty tough year. Several funerals, several periods of unemployment, financial hardship, two moves, it’s been all I can do to keep from wallowing in self-pity let alone try to keep to a writing schedule. On the one hand, I have the feeling that I haven’t gotten much done this year. On the other hand, I wrote stories for two anthologies that will be out later this year, brainstormed a new series of books, worked on getting Little Miss Lovesick into print, and attended two writing retreats and a national conference. I’ve also been learning how to run a publishing company since I’m self-publishing my books.

Under the circumstances, I feel pretty good about what has been accomplished! I’m working on getting more of a schedule going, creating a printed menu of work for each month, and in general getting more done starting this week. But I’m still not going to force myself to write every day because that’s not how I work best.

What should you do this week? Begin by tossing the word “should” out the window. (I’m not saying you definitely “should” but I think you’ll find it helpful.) Then look back over your writing life and your regular life and look for patterns when you felt like you achieved the most and were happiest. That’s where you’re going to find the answers for you.

I need to find some time each week for silly fun, some time for TV and movies, some time for reading fiction and nonfiction, some time alone, and some time with other people. Some varying amount of each of these help me to get the most work done during the week.

Looking over your life, what do you think will work best for you?

Procrastination

          My life is getting busier and busier. The funny thing is, though, I feel more alive and motivated than I have in years. Even so, some things haven’t changed. I’m still working on my procrastination issue. 🙂 The difference now? Instead of berating myself and piling on the guilt, I’m seeing progress even in this seeming backward step. I’m choosing to see the good in this struggle. The progress. For one thing I’m finding enjoyment in things I haven’t in a long time . . . or ever. Even if those things are only an excuse to ignore other things that need to be done.

          For example, I’ve realized I often use schoolwork to procrastinate other schoolwork. I’ll spend an hour drawing on a project that is due in two weeks instead of working on a paper that is due the next day. Or I spend hours planning my summer and fall class schedule, ignoring the projects and papers due soon. In the end, though, it is all getting done.

          Maybe there is a lesson in that somewhere. 🙂 Maybe, instead of procrastination, what I’m really doing is discovering how I work. Maybe I need that seeming ignore-it-time to find direction and inspiration. Maybe. It still feels like procrastination. I can’t deny, though, that I am getting assignments and responsibilities done. On time. Maybe this procrastination monster in my life really can be tamed, harnessed and enjoyed.

          One of my procrastination activities is reading. Recently I was given the opportunity to read an ARC (advance reader copy) of “Daystar,” the newest novel written by Kathy Tyers. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. She is one of my all time favorite authors. “Daystar” is fantastic! The storyline and characterization are rich, maybe richer than any of her other books. It is the final book in the Firebird series, but can easily stand alone as its own story. Reading that story was one of the most enjoyable procrastination activities I’ve done all year.

          Kathy and her assistant co-wrote a guest blog, which we will post on Tuesday. In the meantime, you can find her book, “Daystar,” as well as the rest of the Firebird series at Amazon or from Marcher Lord Press. Be sure to check out Kathy Tyers blog for a special offer . . . a great way to get a taste of the Firebird story.

Author Crush Month: Kathy Tyers

          Kathy Tyers is one of my all-time favorite authors! Maybe even my most favorite. (I can never choose just one favorite anything, but Kathy always makes the list.) She tells a compelling story, sets it firmly within a Christian worldview in a totally different universe. Finding science fiction and fantasy written from a worldview compatible with my faith is sometimes difficult. (Which is why I’m such a fan of Marcher Lord Press, too.) I loved, loved, loved the Firebird series. Watching the growth of faith in the characters was inspiring and seeing their struggles and confusions often illuminated my own. I’ve read it multiple times and am eagerly awaiting its re-release by Marcher Lord Press. (I’ll be buying the Kindle version so I can carry it with me whenever my husband drags me to different parts of the world.) I’m even more excited that she has resumed writing new stories. Here is Kathy Tyers, telling us about her writing process.

          I’ve never been afraid of big projects. When I learned to appliqué (back before I started writing, I had time for handicrafts) I started with a king-size quilt. So when I started writing my second book, I bought a calendar and scribbled down my goals. That way, I could see when each phase of the project should be finished.

          I learned to do it in pencil, though. Real life happens. Once, for two weeks I created a particularly detailed chart and blocked out each writing day in 15-minute increments. I drove myself to stay with those goals. I ended up with pneumonia (stress-induced, no doubt), and for a week the closest I could get to writing was wishing I could sit up. Lesson learned—never again. With my daily goals set in pencil, if I fall behind I can simply erase the whole business and set new goals. It’s called forgiveness.

          So for me, a reasonable calendar goal is to spend 3 days drafting each chapter and 3 days per chapter on the first edit. I don’t usually set Sunday goals – I need to breathe, emotionally and spiritually. I need that distance from writing itself, so on Monday I can get back to work gratefully.

          So those two early drafts look alike on the calendar, but there’s a huge difference in reality. Does anyone else find first-draft writing emotionally exhausting? That daily 1/3 chapter might take 45 minutes to 2 hours to draft, but then I’m drained for the day. On the other hand, I can edit and re-edit for ten hours if I’m not careful. I love watching my rough draft get better, better yet, and finally stand up and sing.

          I do grab short blocks of time—ten minutes or less. I prefer editing hardcopy; besides looking more like a “real page,” there’s always a backup if the computer crashes. So there’s nearly always a chapter that needs ten minutes’ worth of retyping. When I have long blocks of time, I really can get into the groove—but I have to be careful, or I end up with aches and pains and eyestrain. Stretching, walking, even refocusing my eyes on the near distance—since I’m in this for the long haul, I need to do them all.

          Oh … and since I’m a morning person, I try to save those precious pre-noon hours for writing. I can accomplish more in a morning hour than an afternoon hour—and if I take my lunch break with a sense of accomplishment, I’m less prone to melancholy and frustration later in the day.

          Sometimes, when things aren’t going as smoothly as I would like, I set a time goal instead of a chapter-fraction goal. I tell myself I can always sit and work for an hour, no matter how busy I am. I played the same mind game when I used to play my flute seriously. I could almost always convince myself to practice for fifteen minutes. Getting the flute out of the case was the hard part. After that, the pleasure of creating and improving something beautiful carried me forward. It works with writing, too. Getting started is the hardest part. Next hardest is stopping to stretch if it’s going well—because writing a novel really is a big project, and I want to finish…eventually!

          Kathy Tyers is the author of the Firebird trilogy, which will be reprinted in April 2011 by Marcher Lord Press with new maps and annotations, as well as several other CBA and ABA novels. She is best known for her two Star Wars spin-off novels, one for Bantam Spectra books and one for Ballantine/Del Rey. She recently completed a Master of Christian Studies degree at Regent College in Vancouver BC, lives in Montana and has one grown son.

You Call THIS Finished?!?

          Finishing. Something I find hard to do. 🙂
          What makes it so hard for me to finish things? When you are a constant procrastinator like me, it seems as though the answer is easy. I just need to focus a little more, discipline myself a little more, write a little more.
          Or do I?
          Maybe, sometimes, occasionally it’s understandable. Not completely my doing. Maybe.
          Like now. Or rather, like two months ago. With my latest success-failure.
          At the beginning of the summer, I went on a month-long road trip/vacation. Just as that vacation began, I finished the rough draft of the TimeTracker manual. TimeTracker is the software application my husband wrote for me to keep track of where I spend my time. I’ve enjoyed using it so much, I wanted to make it available to others. For months I kept track of what I did and how I did it. I wrote detailed instructions and organized it all into a readable format. Or so I thought.
          On my first travel day, sitting in an airport during a 5-hour layover, I finished that baby. Jubilant, I emailed it to my husband. He’d have plenty of time to read it and make notes before I returned home. Not so.
          A week after I returned, he opened the file. I sat in the room with him, supposedly working on something else. His groans and complaints pulled me back into the everyday world. He’d expected a finished, polished draft. I’d sent a first draft. He’d expected icons and other “bells and whistles”. I’d put in some, but expected him to note where others belonged as well as commenting on the content. He said there was no sense evaluating the content when the format needed so much work.
          Is he right? Maybe. Maybe not. Certainly the document needs more work. But I needed input. And maybe just a teeny-tiny high-five for actually finishing a step in the process.
          Well, that’s behind me now. Yes, his lackluster response killed the enthusiasm I had for the project and sent me into a corner to nurse my wounds. That’s part of the life of the writer. Now it’s time to pick myself up and finish this project. That is what I’ll be doing this week. Really finishing the TimeTracker manual. Or at least the next draft.
          And this time . . . when hubby opens the file to evaluate it, I’ll be out of earshot.

Is It Finished Yet?

          Finishing. I’m supposed to start us off on the topic of finishing? Is this a joke? I’m the poster child for procrastinating and NOT finishing things.

          Even when I think I’m done, I’m not. A couple of years ago I “finished” a draft (not the first by a long shot) of a novel I’d been working on for years. Weeks later, when I went back to it to edit and polish it before submitting, I ended up changing so much that it became a different story. It never did get submitted. I’m still working on it! In the shorthand I use to refer to it, it’s called E&M, the initials of the hero and heroine. (Or maybe it’s really an anagram for an Everlasting & Mutating mess!)

          More recently, I thought the first drafts of my two non-fiction projects were done. Not so! My cookbook is missing several must-have recipes and a LOT of narrative and anecdotes. The manual for the software application my husband wrote needs almost as much work, too. At least according to my husband.

          My propensity to start and never finish projects is ever-present in all areas of my life. There’s the baby quilt for my firstborn (he’s 22), a whole slew of waiting-to-be-framed inspirational tidbits tacked on my walls or languishing in a drawer, mending or alterations waiting in a basket (for 3 years!), piles of books to read and who knows what else.

          This in the person scheduled to talk today? About finishing projects?

          Yes! It is. The perfect person.

          I do have a slew of unfinished projects littering my life. I’m good with that. That means I haven’t quit. I’m still working on them. I print out those inspirational quotes and tack them to the wall without frames. I store craft projects with accompanying instructions and notes so I can easily begin again. I write almost every day. Perseverance is the ONLY way to make it to The End. One word, one sentence, one page at a time. From first draft to second to tenth. Even if all I’m doing is procrastinating the decision to quit, it is still perseverance. And perseverance is the one character quality every successful writer must have.

          While I may wait until my firstborn is married and expecting a child to go back to working on it, that Mother Goose quilt with its 8 hand appliqued and embroidered squares will get finished. As will all the other projects, including the Everlasting & Mutating mess. But first, this cookbook and the manual.

          Time to get to work!

Borrowing From Peter to Pay Paul

I’m laughing as I type this blog. You know that Stephanie and Shonna and I were really trying hard to overcome our procrastination issues this past month. Steph and I seem to be the worst at procrastination. (I don’t know what Shonna’s bad at – I’m beginning to think she’s an alien because I can’t think of any of her faults right now!) But Steph and I both made a point of typing up our blogs early, getting them queued days ahead of time, sometimes having a blog ready two weeks early.

Then, when Anti-Procrastination Month was over,  Stephanie got lost in the middle of her busy life on Monday. And I woke up Thursday morning (your Wednesday afternoon) to an email from Shonna asking if I was okay because I hadn’t blogged yet. My first response – Oh, crap!!!

LOL!

I find it hilarious that Stephanie and I can only seem to keep up a front for anti-procrastination. The month apparently didn’t have any long-term effects on the way we work. Because here we are acting like we usually do – what? my blog is due today? but I have, like, four days left till – oh, wait, if yesterday was Sunday then today must be Monday and oh crap!

LOL!

I hope you don’t mind all the laughter on my end. It’s me coming to grips with the possibility that I’m just going to have to figure out a way to work with my personality quirks instead of trying to change them. I am a huge proponent of self-improvement, don’t get me wrong. But sometimes you have to stop for a minute and ask yourself how much energy you’re wasting trying to push a boulder uphill. Maybe you should see if there is another way to reach your goal.

If I’ve learned anything from the past month, it’s what I’ve thought about in the last ten minutes since Shonna emailed me: borrowing from Peter to pay Paul is not a long-term solution. I accomplished a lot last month. Many things were vitally important like finishing my taxes. But in the end, I found myself on Sunday morning realizing I had eight days to finish four projects for school, all of them 40-50% of my grade in the class. That gave me two days per project to finish them. (They were all started, but none were complete.)

So I spent the last four days finishing two of the projects – and feeling quite good about it. I rarely checked email or Facebook. My husband took over all the household tasks. I only took time to take a shower in the morning and make a peanut butter and jam sandwich at lunch, then run to class at night. I worked hard and I was so impressed with myself!

Until this morning. When I realized I was still borrowing and stealing time, juggling more things than I apparently had time for, and fighting off the effects of that lifestyle – a knock-me-down cold.

So what have I learned? See me grinning and chuckling again! I don’t know!! I did great last month only to find I started out this month already out of time! All I can tell you is – thank God I’m in the mood to laugh about it instead of whine and curse. LOL! Because I don’t know how else to get through it!

How about you? Please, someone tell me you’re the same way! LOL! I don’t want to feel alone in this. Have you tried to change and found that some parts of you simply are the way they are? Have you found ways to work around them and still achieve your goals? I wish I could get God to send me a message of some kind telling me which things aren’t going to change that I just need to work with, and which things I should take the time and energy to work at because they really will improve with effort. LOL!

While I wait for your replies, I’m going back to the homework. Four days to finish two projects. I know I can do it! So long as there is nothing else I forgot that I procrastinated about!  🙂

Is it over?

          I thought today was to be my last Anti-Procrastination Month entry. Until I talked with Shonna on Friday night. Ack! Not only did I still have to write a blog, but it had to be on a different theme? I’m on a road trip/vacation, for pity’s sake! I’ve had even less time to write than I expected and have fallen in bed exhausted, at the same time (or even before) my hosts. (This is extremely rare. Those who know me, know this. 🙂 ) The two days after talking with Shonna were spent driving across country and arriving home in a road-hazed daze.

          That means this blog did not get written and posted as I’d planned. Ok. I admit it. It didn’t get posted two weeks ago because I procrastinated (just a little), thinking I could finish while on my vacation. I had two different ideas and (I thought) plenty of time to write 500 words on either (or both) of them. Not so!

          One still needs work and . . . the other still needs time. And both of them relate to Anti-Procrastination Month . . . or the routines that can be created to minimize or utilize procrastination. (Yes, sometimes procrastination is a good thing.)

          So, while this month is scheduled to be a little more free-for-all, I’ll be staying close to the procrastination issue a few more weeks. Kitty and Shonna, I hope you don’t mind. 🙂

          What procrastinated projects did you finish this month?

          This month, even with a 2 ½ week road trip, I finished the rough draft of the software manual and read 3 novels (Shutter Island, The Light Princess, Rooms). I am in the middle of two other novels (The Word Reclaimed, Refuge), which I expect to finish in the next couple of days. I hope Anti-Procrastination Month was at least as much of a success for you.

Anti-Procrastination Month!

          Routines For Writers has declared May to be Anti-Procrastination month!

          That’s right. Each of us are going to choose at least one project or activity that we have been ignoring or putting off. For the next five weeks, we will focus on getting it done. Our blogs will chronicle our success (or not) and present the tips and tricks, lectures and lessons that help us along the way to finishing these projects (or abandoning them?). In the process, we hope to inspire you to wage war on your own procrastination.

          The past few months, I’ve been successful in making progress on a couple of projects, a software manual and a cookbook. I have also posted sporadically on my personal blog, Stephanie’s Musings. As I look at May, I see the potential for a struggle to even maintain that minimal success. A large chunk of time which had been dedicated to writing is now less likely to be used for writing. In addition to the daily schedule adjustments I need to make, an extended vacation is planned for the end of the month. Add in a few new responsibilities and you can see I’m feeling just a tad overwhelmed at the thought of choosing yet another project.

          The fact is, though, the only way projects get finished is with regular input. I will never finish any project I don’t work on. Procrastination breeds procrastination. The only way to break the chain is to pick up the procrastinated project and get busy. I may not finish it by the end of May, but if I start now, I will be closer to the finish come May 31.

          There are several things I want to work on, things I’ve been putting off for weeks or months. The two that seem to matter the most to me now are reading more fiction and working on my own fiction projects.

          I’ve been reading about Story Architecture, particularly Larry Brooks’ blog, Storyfix. I have a story that really needs some structure imposed on it. (Either that or it needs to be abandoned all together.) Reading Larry’s blogs has reignited my passion for the story. I want to analyze my story and try to impose some good structure into it.

          As I realistically look at what May holds for me, I think perhaps I’ll have to procrastinate a little more on this project. 🙂 It might be easier to incorporate this next activity into May’s topsy-turvy schedule. I can always extend my personal anti-procrastination month and work on my fiction after my trip.

          I used to read at least a book a week. Even those years I was totally immersed in caring for my family, I found time to read. It was often books relating to homeschooling or childcare or some other aspect of home life, but I always had at least one fiction book in the mix. Somehow, now that I actually have more time, I seem to spend less of it reading. I think I will change that this month. This month I will read at least two, preferably four or more novels.

          What projects or activities have you been procrastinating? Come join us as we slay that procrastination monster. (Or at least bruise him up a bit.)