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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Guest Blog: Barbara Westbrook: Is Procrastination Driving You Crazy?

If something's hard to do, then it's not worth doing.” ~ Homer Simpson

By far, the best part about procrastination is that you are never bored, because you have all kinds of things that you should be doing. As a matter of fact, I’m right in the middle of not doing something I should be doing right now, because I should be working on my newest book that I just started. The poor thing has been calling my name for an hour or so now, and I’ve been working very hard to ignore it.

Sometimes it’s not hard for me to get to work—these are the early days usually when I have a great idea and I just can’t wait to get it put down on paper. (these days don’t come around often enough, sadly) But if I don’t have a clear idea in mind, or if the weather outside is just too pretty, or there is something really good on TV…you get the picture. It’s all too easy to just put it off for a little while.

Then the guilt sets in. And the self-doubt. There is a silly little commercial on TV for a breakfast product in which a little girl is in a spelling contest and dancing around her is Mean Old Self Doubt chanting “You don’t know it!” You can’t do it!”

How well I know the feeling, Little Girl! What an annoying little twerp. So is there anything we can we do about procrastination? What would that be? Is there an answer?

Let's start with the standard advice. You've heard all these trite little aphorisms before: Just Do It (If I could “Just Do It” I wouldn’t be sitting here, arranging all my paper clips into order by size and color)

Break the unwanted task into smaller tasks (Like what? Write one paragraph? Which I will then sit and stare at it until it looks like untalented, no good garbage—which the little dancing twerp has been trying to tell me all along)

Do the hard task first (it’s all hard)

Reward yourself – blah, blah, blah…(by the way, this is definitely NOT my problem—I am very good to myself all the time—these tight jeans I have on are mute testament to that)

You've probably read about the so-called reasons why we procrastinate: It's a mechanism to deal with stress. (The stress is caused by my not getting to work!)

You do not want to do it (well, duh).

You have no interest in the task (no kidding?)

Your fears are holding you hostage (Well, that and the Ghost Hunters Marathon on SciFi channel).

Perfectionism (Have you seen my house today? Hmmm, not so much)

So what is the answer? I’m not sure I have the answer. (if I had that kind of power over time and space, I can assure you I wouldn’t be sitting here, not writing my novel) For me, it’s trying to get rid of the distractions. Turning off the TV, the phone and not even trying to go online “just for a minute to check emails.” Then I tell myself, just write for about 30 minutes, and see how it goes. Usually I get caught up in the storyline in that time, and I keep going. If not, I get up and try again later. I’ll always come back to it eventually, because I’m OCD like that.

To misquote Jonathan Winters just a little bit, “I couldn't wait for motivation, so I went ahead without it.” What about you? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? What do you do when your muse has taken a hike?

The witty Dorothy Parker once said, “Live, drink, be merry, love the reeling midnight through, For tomorrow ye may die, but alas we never do.”

Barbara is happily married and the mother of four children. She has a degree from Berry College in English and currently teaches literature and writing. She has lived in Europe, and traveled extensively all her life. In addition to writing, she loves to paint landscapes in oils and acrylics.

Her favorite reads are Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Romantic Suspense. Her novel, Standing on Stolen Ground is a unique combination of all these genres. Born in Virginia, Barbara heard stories about the Shenandoah Mountains
all her life, and her new novel is set in this beautiful area.She has done
extensive research on the area, and her mother, now 97 years old, used to tell her fascinating stories about her childhood in this lovely area of Virginia.

Barbara is from Georgia, and also has a home in the North Carolina mountains, near Sapphire NC.

There will be two more novels in this series based in the Shenandoah Mountains. The series is called Brides of the Blue Ridge.

BLURB: Standing on Stolen Ground (Historical Romance)

The year is 1934. In the Shenandoah Mountains of Virginia Lila Bruce, a young woman nearing the age when she might be called an "old maid" marries handsome Joe Jenkins, a man she has loved since she was a young girl.

He’s made it clear to her that this is a marriage of convenience, but she still has hopes that she can somehow make him love her. Their lovemaking is passionate and steamy, right from the start, but Lila can't connect with his heart.

Their lives threatened by forces beyond their control, they share an absolute passion, but can they find love before it’s too late? Set against a backdrop of conflict and danger, this is a novel of great love and great courage.


Tina Donahue said...

I wish I could procrastinate. Every time I try, I get real edgy and just can't relax. For me, it's better to just get the job over with and move on. :)

Cynthia Arsuaga said...

Hey Barbara,
I get over my short spells by just doing it! I sit and stare at the laptop screen sometimes, but eventually the words flow. I just stick to it, although everything else around my life goes to pot! LOL

P.S. I'm originally from Virginia and love the mountains even though I lived at the Beach. Live in Florida now. Go figure!

Daisy Dunn said...

You are too funny...I think all writers tend to procrastinate. For me, I work all day in front of a computer, so to go home and still sit in front of a computer is hard. Especially when it's summer time. Obviously you're not procrastinating too badly since you have a novel coming out and your are working on more. The book sound very interesting. Looking forward to reading it. Your fellow SCP author, Daisy Dunn.

Molly Daniels said...

My procrastination is family-imposed. They don't take what I do seriously unless the words are demanding to be written.

Your historical sounds AWESOME! I'm currently hooked on reruns of The Waltons so this story ties in with what I'm watching:)

Sandy said...

My hubby imposes my procrastination on me. lol I sympathize with you Barbara.

Usually, if I procrastinate it's because I don't know what to write next. If you don't know where your story is going it's tough to write.

Mary Corrales said...

I have to say that I'm very good at procrastinating. I literally have to turn to using the internet at times as my reward for writing.

I don't even allow myself to check my emails until I've gotten pages done.

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