Tayari Jones warns against letting what “needs to be done” get in the way of what else needs to be done—your book.
It's time to introduce a new term-- Workcrastinaton. If you're like me, you think that procrastination involves Law & Order marathons and Twitter, and these are insidious forms of procrastination, for sure. But there is another, more sneaky, incarnation-- Workscrastination.
This is when you blow off your novel for important stuff that needs doing, not fun stuff, but necessary stuff. For example, right now. I know I need to be working on my novel, but I am doing things like grading student papers. (It must be done! It's my job!), paying bills (It's the first of the month!), etc. Other instruments of Workcrastination may include visiting this website. (Yes, I know irony when I see it.) Networking and other marketing concerns are particularly slick forms of workcrastination. It's very easy to trick yourself into thinking that you are making progress on your book because you are going to this and that conference where you got to meet a certain famous author (OMG she gave me her card!!), etc. You tell yourself that publishing is all about who you know, so this is all very positive. It's taking your career into your own hands. And, since you don't have access to an Old Boys Club, you have to hustle harder. And maybe you should order up a new set of cards now that you think about it. And what about your website, your blog?
You get the idea.
Cut it out. It's workcrastination. Working for
the book is not the same as working on
Working on marketing and networking is easier than finishing your book-- especially once you have reached that 100 page mark and you feel like you are trying to bathe an octopus. Endlessly researching agents and scouring Publisher's Marketplace is a lot easier than figuring out what's hanging you up emotionally and keeping you from being able to develop your characters. And who wouldn't rather drink a Bellini at an awards ceremony than read your entire manuscript aloud to check for pacing problems? And anything you do in a party dress is more exciting than sitting at your kitchen table in your robe, struggling to get your heart on the page.
The human mind is amazing, indeed. When you blow off a writing day in favor of a lazy three-mimosa brunch with your girlfriends, you feel guilty. Guilt is an ugly emotion, but it has its uses. In this case, it is your project’s way of getting your attention. Workcrastination is a weird, almost evolutionary defense against guilt. No one can blame you for spending the day working for Meals on Wheels! Like that old commercial from the '70s used to say, “Pretty sneaky, sis.”
I love the illustration for today's post. Here is the source
, so you can see it in a larger size. The caption says "Procrastination is an art." If that's true, I would say, "Workcrastination is a science
You know what you need to do. Just do it. Sit down, get quiet. Write your book. No one can do it but you.
Adopt a zero-tolerance policy for yourself-- If it ain't the book, it's procrastination. If the house is burning down, grabbing a hose = procrastination.
Time to get to work.
And not to encourage bad behavior, but SheWriters—what is your favorite form of workcrastination? And if you don’t workcrastinate, how did you learn to resist its siren song?