Procrastination, or maybe not

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Procrastination. That word sums up my writing life for the last two months. I’ve tried all of my fail-safe tricks for motivating myself, but nothing has worked. I know it’s the holidays, and we’re all busy, but I feel like I should be able to get something done. As I was wasting time, er, working on my social media the other day, I came across Anne R. Allen’s website and a blog titled 6 Writing Dragons: How To Slay Them by Ruth Harris.

The number one dragon on Ms. Harris’ list is Procrastination. Alrighty then, I thought, here might be some information I can use. Her suggestion for slaying the procrastination dragon is for me to take control, shut off the internet, get to work. She even suggests I stop cleaning the bathroom. Doesn’t she realize the only time my house is clean is when I’m putting off writing?

To quote–You are the boss of you and you are a grown-up. Gheesh, talk about putting pressure on a girl. Seriously, usually this type of talking to gets me going. I clean the garbage out of my mind and get to work, but after clearing my desk off and opening my WIP, I sat there. Nothing.

So as I sat scrolling through my Facebook friends, a post caught my eye. Zombie Writing, or How Much 2013 Sucked by Asa Maria Bradley. I’d met Asa Maria a few years ago at the Emerald City RWA convention, and I’ve talked to her once in a while over the years.

Since 2013 sucked for me, too, I clicked on the link. Now, my 2013 started out with a cancer diagnosis for my husband then moved to having a $20,000 horse die. The lost money was bad enough, but Big Al was a one of a kind horse, talented and sweet. The year was topped when a doctor gave my mother six months to live.

Asa Maria’s year was even worse.

She struggled as many of us do with aging parents. Her mother has breast cancer that spread to her bones, and her father went from being a vibrant, healthy man to suffering bouts of confusion.

To complicate the situation, her parents live in Sweden, and Asa lives in the Northwest. Numerous long distance flights, much less the never ending worry, wear you out.

The purpose of this is not to elicit sympathy for either of us. As often happens, a paragraph she wrote spoke to me.

I didn’t notice being preoccupied. My brain wasn’t filled with thoughts of mom and dad when I needed to think about work. I just couldn’t focus. Couldn’t figure out what needed to be done next in a list of tasks. Couldn’t remember related events or details. Couldn’t think at all.

Yes, that was me. Thoughts of Mom and my husband didn’t immobilize me, but gradually decisions became harder, even what to wear was a struggle. As I read further, a sentence in the blog grabbed me by my lapels and shook me like a terrier with a rat.

A writer friend sat me down and we had a long talk. She gave me permission to not be productive. She told me it was okay to write just for the sake of writing and throw it away when it was no good. She told me it was okay not to write.  

It is okay not to write. A simple statement but such a relief to me.

It’s been a couple of days since I read Asa Maria’s blog, and I do feel better. Just knowing the stress of this year is probably the cause of my inertia makes it better. I’m taking a couple of weeks off, guilt free then I’ll start back to work revising my WIP.

I hope I’v not just rambling here. On a better note, Mom is doing as well as she can, going on ten months since the six month diagnosis, and my husband’s operation has left him cancer free. Unfortunately, we can’t do anything about the horse.

I’m looking forward to 2014. It can’t be as bad as 2013. Can’t have two bad years in a row, that’s the rule.

How was your year? Hopefully, it was a good one and 2014 will be the best.