My name is Jeff

…and I’m a Procrastinator

By Jeff Salter

Topic: To what degree does procrastination affect your writing projects? Do you have any theories about WHY you procrastinate on certain projects… or at certain periods?

I found several great-looking links to articles about the causes of procrastination… and suggestions on how to reduce / minimize that unproductive trait. I’ll try to get around to reading those actual articles tomorrow, maybe. Or next week. Well, late August is a possibility. Oh, crud… they’ll still be accessible after Christmas.

LOL

Folks, I’m a chronic procrastinator.

My name is Jeff and I’m a procrastinator. I experienced my most recent procrastination about 17 minutes ago.

Yep. This topic – suggested by me – is near and dear to my heart.

For much of my life – as student, in the military, and in my various work environments (including journalism) – I’ve been able to crank out the required results by the expected deadlines. [Though some of those times, it was literally at the very last gasp before the deadline.]

But when the deadline has been too far off, or too vaguely stated, I (typically) just couldn’t seem to wrangle all those elements I need to get it going. Those elements would include interest, motivation, and excitement (on the front end)… then, curtailing distractions and external commitments… finally, concentrating.

Generally speaking, if the project was something I didn’t want to do in the first place – such as MANY assignments during my working career – it was even more difficult to get the wheels rolling. Conversely, if it was something that interested or intrigued me, I could often dive right in.

But What About Writing?

In fiction writing, however, I’ve found that even if the story is one I AM excited about, I do worse if I have a deadline than if I just stumble into the groove and keep typing until I keel over.

Here’s an example from a few years ago:

With one publisher, I had a deadline to submit a manuscript by June 30 (of the following year). That gave me nearly 10 months to draft it, revise it, get feedback from my beta reader, revise it again, and submit it. In August and September of that year, I cranked out around 9600 words — a fairly decent start. However, I was also working on a completely different story for much of that autumn, including the several exhausting rounds of edits. Then, I had my income tax preparation to deal with. Along the way, there were some significant family upheavals (far beyond the scope of this blog) that took an enormous amount of my time and attention. Suffice it to say, that I wasn’t able to hunker down and get rolling on that draft until early April of that next year — seven months since I’d touched the story! That gave me hardly 11 weeks to draft the additional 40,000 words, revise it all, get feedback, revise it again, and submit. I was stressed to the max!

In a completely different example (a few years earlier than the story just mentioned), one without an external deadline, I got really excited about a new story concept, and wrote ‘til my fingertips were screaming… cranking out my novel’s 50,000 word first draft in 16 days!

No procrastination for that story!

What made the difference?

Not completely sure, since both stories were great concepts and I really wanted to write both. The biggest difference was that – for the 16-day example – I got in the groove, stayed in the groove, and didn’t stop for ANYTHING.

Observations

I was a lot more disciplined in my writing schedule prior to joining Facebook in Jan. 2009. Since then, I spend way too much of every day on FB — writing my own posts (including movie reviews), commenting on other peoples’ comings and goings, and generally just “piddling” [a word my Dad often used to describe unproductive time / activity]. That’s an area I truly do want to work on — to discipline myself to fewer FB log-ons and less time during each log-on.

But maybe I’ll work on that tomorrow…

Ha!

[JLS # 548]

About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
This entry was posted in advice, author's life, Books, experiences, inspiration, Jeff Salter, Random thoughts, The Author Life, time management, writing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to My name is Jeff

  1. I have to admit that family upheavals will distract me more than anything else from my writing and, as I have said, I seem to live in my own, personal soap opera. I feel for you.
    However, with the number of published novels out there, I can’t say that you are counterproductive.
    I read a theory that a work will take as long to write as you have: a short deadline and you can make it, open-ended and yo u may never finish.
    I am going to try to beat that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Agree — while open deadlines (or deadlines way into the future) may work well for some people, they tend to contribute to my procrastination.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jbrayweber says:

    There are so many legit outside factors that can stall you from the end game. And unfortunately, that’s part of a writer’s life (most, anyway). For me, the overwhelming parts of authorship—marketing—is where I will procrastinate the most. It wasn’t always that way. When the concept was clear, I had no trouble navigating marketing. But then Amazon kept moving the goalposts and the playing field became muddy and I became bogged down with what worked, what didn’t, do this, do that, change this, monitor that, and pay, pay, pay. For book writing, I only procrastinate when I am stuck on the book’s direction. It’s easy enough to get unstuck. Just brainstorm with someone. But these days, after the past year, it has been hard to connect with other writers. And I guess I have procrastinated in finding someone…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      absolutely, Jenn. those moving goalposts are horrible… and the constant change in the “rules” — Amazon logorithms, whatever — always keep me off balance.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Hi, Jeff.
    Having a deadline helps with productivity, although urgent family matters will definitely derail them. I had three scheduled write-ins this week, but I’m only able to attend one. I can’t wait until this move is done and I can once again ignore the state of the house and get to work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      absolutely… moving a household — and all the attendant details / projects — can easily paralyze one’s creative output.

      Like

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I’d never have guessed you procrastinate! You’ve surprised me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      LOL. I’ve told people that I’m the world’s second worst procrastinator.
      And when they ask me who is the FIRST worst procrastinator… I reply, “I married her.”

      Like

  5. People in general work better when they have a deadline, at least that’s what I used to think when I was in the 9 to 5 working world. Normally, I had at least 3 to meet, especially in my advertising job and working in the hospital education department. But since I’ve been retired, and my writing has become full time, I don’t believe that anymore. Being and Indie author, I’m not under a deadline. Goals are set for myself, but not a hard deadline that “has to be met.” Since doing that, I find I work much better and enjoy my writing more.

    As far as social media goes, again being an Indie, I have to be on the computer with Facebook, Twitter, and other sites. This get my books, website, newsletter, and articles noticed and my name out there. However, I have learned to set specific times for this, and I have a method now for accomplishing the work faster. Usually, I post a morning call, then work on my projects (stories, articles, newsletter, etc.). My advertising is done either early in the afternoon or before I shut down for dinner. Then we have a break from the computer until later in the evening when I do my evening signoff posts.

    Having adopted this schedule, I have no more stress about being online/social media. It works for me. I even get some painting and gardening time in now, not to mention household duties. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      That sounds like a very effective schedule. You have so many things going on — including the FB site and your newsletter — you must be an excellent time-manager.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve had to with the jobs I held before retiring. I learned to set priorities. Now I use it in my writing. And I’ve always been very organized. Give some of my methods a try, Jeff. They may work for you too.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. claycormany says:

    I procrastinate on writing when I’m reviewing stories or book chapters by other writers or when I’m in the midst of reading a good book. I rationalize this by saying to myself, “Well, I may not be writing but reading and critiquing also qualify as literary activities, so I don’t need to feel too bad.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jeff Salter says:

      similar for me. And I agree that pretty much anything you do in the field of writing is a forward step. One example of mine: years ago when I really needed to hunker down and do a major overhaul of a fiction manuscript, I came across a huge pile of military papers concerning one of my wife’s uncles, who was a P-47 pilot in WW2. The family had always wondered why he was kept stateside for so long, too long to enter actual combat overseas. [He was eventually sent there, but it was after the German surrender.] Through my research, I established a chronology of his orders… and was able to overlay it upon historical context.
      Turns out he’d had several different sets of orders at different times, all of which were later changed or cancelled. In one of those instances, he was at the debarkation port, literally hours from boarding… when his orders were cancelled once again.
      My point?
      That wasn’t fiction writing, but it was exercising the same muscles: research, structure, narrative, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

    • And remember, those two activities teach you in their way. You either learn something you didn’t know about writing, or you learn what not to do. I love it when I read a book or critique another author’s writing and see something that will help my writing. A turn of a phrase or a style or technique that I haven’t thought of. A good writer is always learning. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jeff Salter says:

        absolutely. Not to mention that the extended family finally had an answer to that vexing questions: why a qualified fighter pilot remained stateside for the final two years of the war.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Anonymous says:

    I must admit, procrastination is my middle name, always has been.. and will probably continue to be. I chalk it up to my self-diagnosed ADD,(Attention Deficient Disorder), and yes…… I am quite familiar with piddling around…..I love that word!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s