This week’s pep talk is written by novelist and interactive fiction writer, Alana Joli Abbott.
There are few things that make me more stressed than being late. Whether this is being behind on a writing deadline or just running late to drop off my daughter at school, the result is the same. I feel frustrated that I can’t move things along faster, or that I made the choice to check the weather (or worse, Facebook) online instead of getting stuff done. And I’ve discovered that sometimes I have the absolutely worst coping mechanism for dealing with being late.
“Oh, I’m already behind. If I fall behind a little farther, it won’t matter that much.”
Or I feel guilty that I’m behind, so to avoid that feeling of guilt, I also avoid working on the project.
This is not the right way to handle being behind. It keeps building up so that I’m farther behind, and then I feel more stressed and guilty. Eventually, I have to buck up and get the work done (which inevitably makes me feel better). Looming deadlines have a way of inspiring hard work like nothing else does.
Ideally, I wouldn’t fall behind in the first place. There is nothing that feels better to me than a project that I can turn in early. But life doesn’t always cooperate with those plans.
You’re almost at the end of your month of writing. Some of you may be ahead of schedule, not only finishing out that 50k words, but wrapping up a long story line that’s all coming together. Some of you may have even already finished! Congratulations to you!
Some of you may be behind. You still have time to make it, and here’s my word of sage advice: don’t procrastinate! It may seem like a good idea to watch reruns of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of writing. You need down time, or a brain refresher, or that Starbucks coffee break. Make yourself a deal: do a half hour of writing first. Fifteen minutes. Do some writing first instead of putting it off. Even fifteen minutes can help you get closer to that word count, and you may be surprised that once you start, you find you want to get in another fifteen minutes before your Game of Thrones break. Once you start catching up on that goal, you might start to taste what it would be like to be back on schedule. And, second to a looming deadline, that sense of accomplishment is probably the best motivator there is.
Some of you may be at 25,000 words and stuck. You know what? That’s ok. Keep writing. You may need to give yourself permission to revise your goal, because writing 25k in the last few days of June could mean going without meals, sleep, and sanity. But you know what? Even if you have to reduce that goal or give yourself a new, longer deadline, you still have 25k more words than you did at the beginning of the month. Give yourself credit for that accomplishment, and keep writing.
Just don’t procrastinate. Because seriously, procrastinating’ll getcha.
Alana Joli Abbott is a reviewer and game writer, whose multiple choice novels Choice of Kung Fu and Showdown at Willow Creek are published by Choice of Games. She is the author of three novels (one recently funded by Kickstarter), several short stories, and a contributor to role playing games. You can find her online at VirgilandBeatrice.com.