Procrastination in the Wild

The NaNo sends out a storm of cobwebs and crickets to blogs.  I’m not complaining, just making an observation.  🙂


Hopefully lots of writers are furiously meeting daily goals. And if not, I sincerely hope there isn’t any self-flagellation going on. The NaNo is supposed to free up the creativity, open the mind to unrestrained ideas.  But for some, it instead creates a clock ticking sort of pressure which can result in feelings of failure.    

Especially when you have days like mine yesterday.  I’m sharing because these days can happen even when you’re in the middle of the month long frenzy whether it’s a self-imposed goal or even a professional deadline, and that angst can slam all confidence out of the park.


So, yesterday, my frustration levels topped out.  I typed in the longhand additions I made to a scene over the weekend, then moved onto the next.

And the staring game began. 

Me against a blinking cursor, then me against a printed page when I decided fresh surroundings might help.  I looked over words that seemed “okay” the last time I read them. But yesterday, those words kept swimming in these muddy, repetitive puddles and acid kept surging up my throat because I had this goal and I wasn’t coming close to it. 

I KNOW I can ring more emotion out of these characters. 

I KNOW I can write a setting that plays an integral part of the story itself. 

I KNOW I can do better!

Polishing is usually my favorite part.  I love the challenge of fleshing out a scene, adding ambiance, layering realism…  but yesterday, I didn’t do a good job of silencing my ugly side.  That ugly perfectionist side.  The side that reads the words of a favorite writer and whispers, “You can’t be that good, so settle for your own best.” 


For the record, do not listen to that voice.  Stick it in a box with a lock–or burn it in a ceremonial fire, I don’t care, just ditch it.  The comparison game will slow creative flow faster than anything else.

I know this and I’ve grown pretty good at avoiding the situation.  But for some reason, yesterday, I couldn’t separate myself enough to really see the words, to see what the scenes needed.  I couldn’t focus, my mind wandered off constantly. 

All these perfectly natural occurrences did what they always do.  Created the perfect balance in nature for the birth of true procrastination.

Procrastination happens because we want to avoid this inner battle.  We get frustrated, knowing we are capable of better and in order to avoid the self-depreciating thoughts, we find something else to do.

So, I watched Close Your Eyes with Goran Visnjic and Shirley Henderson.  (She’s really a fantastic actress–have you seen Dirty Filthy Love????) I’d share more about the very cool concept for this thriller, but this post is about bad writing days.

Thought taking a break for the movie would help.  But no…. all I did was shove the angst into the backseat.   It climbed to the front later last night and had doubled in size.  I was such a grouch, I removed myself from my family and nursed a massive headache before going to bed early. 

Apparently, I needed sleep.  Woke up refreshed and guess what?  The damn scene made sense again this morning.  I can already tell today is gonna be better.

Bad days happen to good writers.  Repeat that to yourself and move on.  Make the next day yours.  😉


About Rinda Elliott

Writer.I love unusual stories and credit growing up in a family of curious life-lovers who moved all over the country. Books and movies full of fantasy, science fiction and romance kept us amused, especially in some of the stranger places. For years, I tried to separate my darker side with my humorous and romantic one. I published short fiction, but things really started happening when I gave in and mixed it up. When not lost in fiction, I love making wine, collecting music, gaming and spending time with my husband and two children. I’m represented by Miriam Kriss of the Irene Goodman Agency.
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5 Responses to Procrastination in the Wild

  1. I’m losing a lot of my perfectionist angst this time around because I have very low to no expectations for the rough draft. That way, I just plow through and fix/worry later. But when I transer and edit, I slow down a lot because Ms. perfectionist shows back up. Thought I would have to have a typed doc by the end 0f Nov, but I’m going to do the Nano rule of having a friend verify and sending in a generic 50k doc when I’m done.

    And I planne dmore than I normally do, but probably did not plan as much as I could have. But I’m not freaking out about. I’m just putting pen to paper and writing whatever, even if I know it’s going to need a rewrite. That’s okay. Feels great knowing I will have something to fix instead of angsting over getting it right the first try.
    (Which I have FINALLY learned is an insane expectation.)


  2. relliott4 says:

    We can be too hard on ourselves. Sounds like you have a good setup this time around which is great! I’m cheering for you.

  3. Terri says:

    You go, girls! I totally know what you’re talking about, which is why it always takes me at least three months to finish a 30K novella. Sigh.

  4. Missy says:

    I agree with Terri. I can’t finish a novella let alone a novel in a month. Even when I have it planned with the major scenes spelled out, it takes forever to get all those connecting scenes on the pages. *sigh* I guess I’m just slow. 😉

  5. relliott4 says:

    Nah, not slow. You have your own pace that works.

    If I write a novel in a month, it will take another two months to polish it right because of those off days. But, if I accept that something is throwing me off and dig until I find it, I can usually have more good days than bad–that’s wll we really want, right?

    Terri, I saw you finished!!! Yay!!!!

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