Why Can’t I Finish Anything? Procrastination (To Write and Have Written)

Let’s talk about Procrastination! (Spoiler: You’re probably not just lazy.) Speaking generally, writers procrastinate. A lot. But why, and what can we do about it? Here are five primary reasons why creative people procrastinate on their projects, and what to do about it. Plus a lot of fun chat.

Video (from Twitch and YouTube):

To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
To Write and Have Written: A Writer's Guide To The Business Side
Laura VanArendonk Baugh

<p>Writing is only part of a writing career -- no one warned us that we would need business acumen and entrepreneurship to be an author. Whether you're traditionally published or an independent self-publisher, it's good to have a leg up on accounting, marketing, time management, and other key skills.</p><br><p>These recordings of live discussion on craft and development, on business best practices, on explorations of fascinating and inspiring real life cool stuff, and more will help you along your writing journey and career development. Join Laura VanArendonk Baugh as she shares what she's learned and what she's learning. (Or join the weekly live discussion with your own questions!)</p><br /><hr><p style='color:grey; font-size:0.75em;'> See <a style='color:grey;' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' href='https://acast.com/privacy'>acast.com/privacy</a> for privacy and opt-out information.</p>


Hello, everyone. It is Tuesday night for me at least, this is To Write And Have Written, I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh. And tonight we are talking about procrastination and I wrote these notes today. So, yeah, I just thought you would appreciate knowing that I’m speaking from experience here, so.

Oh, Kate’s here on time, totally failing at procrastinating. No, because you are here to procrastinate from doing something else. So, yeah, that’s OK. We’re going to count that today. Yeah. That is how we are going to count that. And double checking that everything’s coming out all right. All right, yes, doggo, the dog cam is on. Undómiel is gracing us with her presence today. So, OK, so I’m actually excited about tonight’s topic.

This is something that I have put a reasonable amount of thought and effort into over the last few years. But I welcome discussion as always. Please throw your comments into the chat. Is that a Christina in the chat? I think that’s a Christina in the chat, so thank you for stopping by, OK. And I don’t know if they are here in the chat yet, but ShyRedFox and Bridger, if you are here, I want to throw out some congratulations.

Oh, Grace, thanks for subscribing. I appreciate that. Yeah. Hey, if you have Amazon Prime, you can subscribe for free, which is awesome. So support me. Don’t pay any money. It’s great. So yeah, if ShyRedFox and Bridger, if you are in the chat, I’m going to throw some group congratulations your way, because they are regulars here chatting on the show and both of them have upcoming releases that I wanted to mention.

But we’ll see if they come in tonight and we’ll let them talk about that. OK, so tonight I just want to be specific. We are talking about procrastination in writing. I am not addressing the rest of anyone’s life. I’m not going to pretend to know what’s going on. So that is where we’re going to focus tonight. And so I just want to say, first of all, there are a number of reasons for procrastination.

We’re going to go through them in no particular order, just in the order I felt like addressing them. So. Oh, Grace says she has learned some unexpected but surprisingly basic things on this topic in the past few days. Hey, I feel like most of this is unexpectedly basic, like there’s an enormous amount of well, that makes sense, but I never thought of it in that way. That happens, really. That’s like most of behavior when we think about it, but that’s how that goes.

Oh, thank you, Christina, for that subscription as well. Yay, great start tonight. OK, let’s actually focus, I’m going to stop procrastinating talking about procrastination. I’m going to actually address this in my notes over here. I can see a little bit better. Sorry, guys. I’m trying a new layout tonight for my workstation, and I’m not sure yet how I feel about it. So let me start again. We’re talking about procrastination in writing.

We are not talking about anything else. But this is something where we… I don’t know anyone who’s creative, who does not do this. “Huh. Really need to get this done. Dishes need washed.” Like, that is completely going on. So I just want to say, first of all, this in most cases is not about laziness. We may joke about that sometimes, we’ll actually throw that around as self accusatory or blaming a partner or whatever is going on.

Now we’re going to talk about some of the reasons that will be behind procrastination. And again, I welcome, if you guys have any insights from your own experience or things that worked for you or whatever, then feel free to share those. You know, but the reasons that we’re going to talk about tonight are not just, you know, we’re lazy bums who don’t feel like doing anything. Generally, these are things that we want to do. We just aren’t doing them so well.

If we find the real reason for our procrastination, and we choose not to address it, that’s another issue. That’s on you. That’s not what we’re talking about here. What we’re going to talk about here is why is the procrastination happening? So let’s start with the big one that honestly, I feel like this is probably the bulk of causes, just from a simple majority standpoint, and that is our good old buddy fear that shows up on so many of the things that we talk about here.

So first, let me address, just like let’s talk about fear from the logical point. The logical point is not always the useful one, we’ll get to the emotional point in a minute. But let’s start with the logical point. And what this is, is I’ve got this story in my head and it’s pretty and it’s good and it’s amazing. And I’m going to write it down and it’s not going to be good in the same way that it is good in my head, because first drafts are not ever as good as the glowing concept in my head, so as soon as I write down, it’s not going to be good. It’s not going to be good enough. I’m not going to create this amazing story. I can keep it from getting bad by not writing it. So I’m going to find ways to put off writing it, to keep it from degrading from the concept in my head. This is extraordinarily common, whether or not you have articulated that in exactly that form.

Guys, I know a lot of creative people, this is extraordinarily common. So the short version is, if I don’t write it, then it’s then it’s not not good enough. OK. All right. Yeah. OK, here’s the thing, though. If I don’t write it, it’s also not good enough. Right? So I’m going to take this out of the out of the writing sphere for just a moment. Let’s talk about cookies, because I just like talking about cookies.

If I want to make amazing chocolate chip cookies and I, I can taste them. I can I can smell them. And they are gooey and they’re that stretchy. Part of the chocolate just melts in your mouth because you because you made chocolate chip cookies correctly, which is you didn’t overbake them, you just walked the dough past the oven to frighten it. And then you have these warm, gooey cookies, OK? And that’s what I want to do.

That’s what I want to make. I do not want to burn these cookies by leaving them in the oven too long. So I just don’t make the cookies. And that way I haven’t burned the cookies, but I also don’t have any cookies. OK, I am not actually helping myself by not making the cookies. I’m just depriving myself of cookies. There are times that — I’m using the cookies example because it’s a little bit silly, but there are times when this feels much more justifiable.

If I’m working with a particular costume or hanging out with my cosplay friends and we might have this conversation, I’ve definitely had this conversation, about, “This fabric cost me a hundred and fifty dollars a yard. As soon as I cut it, there’s no going back. I have to get it right the first time. I can’t just drop another three hundred dollars on fabric,” or something like that. Yeah. That is, is also a paralyzing thing. And there’s, that’s a little bit more justifiable because there’s real financial investment in the materials. The chocolate chip cookies, not so much. Chocolate chip cookies are pretty cheap in the grand scheme of things.

OK, here’s the thing. Your words are free, your words cost less than chocolate chips, right? If I write a sentence, if it is a terrible sentence, I have, I’ve written the worst sentence. I do not have any fewer words in my reservoir of words than I did before I wrote that sentence. OK, hang on, the chat’s coming in. Yeah, I know, I know there’s a little bit of delay in the chat tonight. I’m really sorry about that.

OK, so Kate’s putting out, “writing gives you the advantage of going back in editing if you burn the first draft like you burn the cookies.” Absolutely. I’m going to get into that because I’m running with the cookie metaphor. But I can rewrite that bad sentence. So I’ve taken the bad sentence. I’m rewriting the bad sentence. I still have not used any more words out of my reservoir. Yes, I’m using time. Time is a resource, but that’s not exactly what I’m talking about here.

I’m not losing anything by using that time. Right. Because, yes, I’ve invested that time in making a thing. But if I did something, if I wash the dishes instead of writing the sentence, I didn’t use that time. On other words, OK, I haven’t actually saved that resource for anything there. Oh, Alena. Your chats are now showing up. Yeah. This is finally just came in so. OK, so all right Alena you can probably sympathize with me about the hundred and fifty dollar fabric, like that is absolutely a thing when you’re sitting there going, “I can’t cut into this.

What if it’s wrong?” OK, you don’t have that issue with your words. You’re going to have just as many words. And same way with submissions. If I don’t want to submit a story because it might get rejected, guess what? I have self rejected the story. All right, so it’s it’s rejected, but instead of being rejected by an editor, it’s rejected by me. Here’s the thing. If I submit a story and an editor does reject it, there are no submission police who come to my house, take the printout of that story, set it on fire, go to my hard drive, wipe it out clean, erase my hard drive so I can never recover it, and then leave, leaving me sitting there with no more story. No, I’ve still got the same story. I can still submit it somewhere else. I haven’t lost anything. Right. There are not resources that are, that I’m burning.

OK, I still have them. Oh hey. I think there’s a Joe in the chat as well so. Yeah. Sorry guys. The chat is definitely delayed, so I apologize for that. So just an example of what I was talking about stories, I wrote a story I’m going to say 15 years ago. It had some nice imagery and absolutely nothing else going for it. It was kind of on the low end of mediocre.

Hey, so I wrote it and it sat there for about fifteen years and then I rewrote it. When I rewrote it, I sold that story. I sold that story and I made my editor cry. I made my editor cry twice, once on submission, once on editing for final publication. If I had just said, “Oh well, I wrote the story and it was not the greatest. So I guess that’s the end of it,” OK, no, no, no.

I took what that was and I reworked it and it turned into something really good and really salable — which aren’t always you know, I’m not using those words synonymously, but it hit both of those.

So, OK, Bridger is here, late to the procrastination chat. Yeah. Hi, Bridger. So I mentioned you earlier before I before I really got started, so we’ll come back to you. But I wanted you and ShyRedFox to mention in the chat what you have got. You guys both have releases coming up. So I wanted to throw some promo there. Christine. I think that was my EQUUS story, which was “Rue the Day.” So that’s in the anthology called EQUUS.

So there we go. OK. Where was it? Oh, so. If I’m not writing it down because it might not be perfect, or I’m not sending it out because it might get rejected. I’m kind of just spiting myself here, but I’m doing that because I’m afraid of, it might not be good enough, it might get rejected. What is it that I’m actually afraid of losing? I’m not losing my words. I’m not losing my time.

I’m not losing. You know what what it is that I’m actually losing? I’m losing my image that I’m perfect on my first try. Hey, so. Hey, guys, by the way, welcome to the human race.

We’ll get you a membership card. You can join the rest of us who are not perfect on our first try. And, you know, I’m just. That’s kind of a silly thing to let get in your way. Just going to say that. And again, I know I’m coming at this from, like, the cold logic part, and it’s not addressing the emotional part here. But let’s throw a little cold water on the emotions just to get started.

Is this really worth spiting myself out of progress? Because I might not be perfect? I’m going to say probably not. I guarantee you, you did not just stand up at 10 months old and go for a jog. OK, there was a process there. And you didn’t fall on your diapered butt the first time and go, “oh, well, I guess that’s not going to work out.” No, there was a process. You tried repeatedly.

You got better. OK. Likewise you didn’t burn the cookies the one time and decide I’m never making cookies again, because that would be a lot of cookies that I haven’t had in my life that I have definitely had in my life. OK, so if you wouldn’t do that in other areas, why would you do that to your writing? So that’s what I’m going back to here, is don’t let that fear spite you out of, you know, good things that you can be doing.

You know, you’ve got that great idea in your head. It might not go down perfectly in your first draft. Guess what? First drafts are like that. First drafts not always, but usually are kind of ugly, steaming piles. OK, that’s fine. It’s going to get better. So, OK, go ahead and try things. That’s the short version. If you’re worried, if you’re procrastinating and you ultimately work out that it’s because you’re worried about, it’s not going to be perfect,

Go ahead and try it. Like it’s not going to be perfect as long as it doesn’t exist. Nonexisting is a far, far cry from perfect. Existing and in a state that can be improved is much closer to perfect. OK, generally speaking, this fear comes because we are comparing, and I’m comparing my first draft to the glowing, not really formed idea in my head. Or even worse, I’m comparing my ugly first draft to pick somebody. Neil Gaiman’s

eighteenth draft that’s been professionally edited. OK, and I’m looking at this and I’m going, “well, this is not going to be as good as that. Therefore…” OK, you know what? It’s not supposed to be good as that. This is a first draft. That’s an 18th draft that’s been through multiple editing passes. Right. What a first draft should be compared to is a blank page. First drafts are always better than a blank page.

All right. OK, OK. I’m sorry.

I’m just now catching up on the chat. You guys are cracking me up. Bridger like “Bold of you to assume I don’t self sabotage in the rest of my life too.” OK, you know what I said at the beginning? This was before you were here. I said at the beginning we were just focusing on writing and I’m not responsible for your other life choices. So I did give myself that caveat and that out early on.

And Joe, GoIndieNow, says he knows he threw away more words than cookies because burned or not, you’ll probably eat them. Yes. OK, you know, there’s there’s a little uncomfortable truth to that. I might eat some burnt cookies, too, but but yeah, I prefer to frighten them. OK, here’s what I will tell people. When I told someone once, if you are really, really worried about screwing it up, like, OK, I’m going to get this down, it’s not going to be the way I want it.

Therefore it’s not worth getting down. You’re really worried about screwing it up. Write it and then don’t even read it. Just get it all down, crumple it up, throw it away. All right. One of two things will happen. Either you wrote it and no harm was done. Therefore, what was the problem in writing it? OK, or you will write it, you will throw it away or you will start to throw it away and you will feel this resistance to throwing it away.

Well, wait a minute. If you’re resisting throwing it away, it must not be completely worthless. Must be better than not existing. So acknowledge that and then improve it. OK, so there we go. OK. Yes, Doberman is being a little bit cute. All right. So that was the first reason for procrastination, fear, and honestly, I think, as I said, that’s probably the biggest one, not necessarily the most acknowledged one, but that’s a really big one, is I just don’t want to not live up to my own expectations.

So Alena is now making cookies, make sure you bring enough to share. Thank you. OK, the second big reason for procrastination and this one I hit a lot, so, definitely talking to myself here, and that is a lack of clear direction. So background, I’m not an outliner at all. I’m. A pantser, barely a plantser. OK, if I go into a story and I’ve got four or five bullet points, that’s a really well planned story for me, OK?

And I do a lot with — I feed my subconscious sugar until it supplies a story. That’s how that works. But if I’m trucking along and then I just suddenly slow down, I start finding reasons to not work on the story, it’s usually because something’s wrong in the story. There is something that’s not working. So working on that, that writing in that story feels hollow and feel like I’m not making progress because I’m not making progress. I can’t go forward because forward is not the right direction.

OK, oh my gosh. Grace is making cookies too. Everybody’s going to be making cookies now. Everybody bring cookies to the chat. Thank you. OK, so and this is the one that hits me a lot. “Depth Charge,” which is the water anthology story that I kept talking about. If you were here in the stream last fall and I kept mentioning, yeah, I’m still working on that water story. Yeah, it’s still awful.

Okay. Right. I whined about that one a lot. And then recently the cyberpunk story that I just did for Rhonda’s anthology that I mentioned the last week. And guys, I threw away three endings for that cyberpunk story. And so there was a lot, a lot of procrastinating. If you were here on the stream last week when I mentioned that I submitted that story less than two hours before deadline. Yeah, like, that’s how procrastination works. OK, but it’s because I didn’t have a good ending.

I really wasn’t happy with where the story was going. And so I kept having to backtrack and start over. And I was putting off working on it because I knew the story wasn’t right. So I guess what I’m talking about there is, if I feel like I can’t make forward progress frequently, it’s because I’m not in the right spot to be able to go forward. So that’s what I need to go back and look at. OK, what’s the plot?

How is my characterization? What is actually going on here? What should be going on here? That sort of thing? Oh, hey, Ronda’s in the chat while I’m talking about how hard that story was. Yeah. And oh so yeah. Where I guess where I’m going with that is, that is probably my single biggest cause for procrastination, is that’s my my inner editor telling me, hey, before you spend a lot more time on this particular project, do you maybe want to look at this project and find out if, you know, you’re going to paint this entire room but it’s the wrong color or, you know, something like that.

So that is, again, just to step back and look at what in this story is not working, and that would be why I can’t go forward with it. So that’s the second reason. And that’s usually the one that that hits me. That’s my big procrastination, cause there’s also a fair amount of the third reason that comes into my personal procrastination library, and that’s where we’re going to go now. So that is, I have this thing I need to do, this thing I want to do this thing, but I don’t actually know how to do this thing or I don’t feel really comfortable doing it. Again, almost always not feeling comfortable because I don’t really know how.

So this can go back to fear again. I’m scared of doing this wrong. I don’t feel confident that I’m going to do it well. So I’m going to I feel like I’m going to do it wrong. So in the writing world, this might look like I don’t know that I’m going to convey this theme effectively or how do I represent this authentically and respectfully? There’s definitely some projects that I have put off in my own work because I don’t quite trust my execution of them.

One of them is representation of disability that I just don’t feel really comfortable with yet. So I work on it and I leave it and I work on it. I leave it, go ask for help and then I work on it and then I leave it, you know, but or I’m just stretching myself. I’m trying to write something that’s a little outside my wheelhouse. I don’t feel really confident in it. So this goes back again. This is all fear. Rather than write it very poorly, I just don’t write it, which really doesn’t help it to get any better. So not the most efficient way to fix that. Or this is where we get into the business side of things, lots of our writing adjacent activities, you know, accounting, marketing, that sort of thing. Hey, it’s tax season here, right? Like this is super evident in tax season where you’re like, “oh, wow, I’ve got this huge pile of paperwork and math.

Let me go bake cookies.” Yeah. So if you were putting off your accounting and you find yourself putting off your accounting, you know, “I need to do it, I need to do it, I need to do it, OK, but I just don’t feel comfortable doing it.” All right, great. We’ve identified the problem. Jump back a couple of months to our accounting episodes, we had a couple of those, and and find ways to break that down and make that easy.

I’m a huge, huge fan of split the project down into tiny bite sized pieces. Kate says, “slips folder of tax docs under the table. No idea what you’re talking about.” Yeah, guys, I’m not picking on any one. I’ve got my own pile of tax documents over here as well. But I have to say they are in pretty good shape this year because I made myself a really good plan full of bite sized pieces. So I’m just going to do a little brag here.

I actually feel good about doing my taxes this year. You feeling attacked? I do do. Come on, I feel organized this year. So here’s the thing. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, I think is a very fair word, by accounting or marketing or fill in the blank.

What we tend to do, what many of us tend to do, as we put it off, we put it off, we put it off until it becomes OK. I really can’t put this off any longer. And then what? I’m going to sit down this afternoon and I’m going to get all my marketing organized. And then after this afternoon, it will be all set, from here on out.

Yeah, that doesn’t actually happen. OK, at least for me that works about as well as, oh my house is a total wreck. I’m just going to clean it today and then it’ll be clean from here on out. That is not how entropy works.

OK, so I’m going to do a lot better if I have a system rather than a single day frenzy and then some really blind wishes that it’ll just fix itself after that. Yeah, Grace is agreeing in the bite sized pieces, this is the way. Absolutely this is the way. So Jesús Rosales-Ruiz, who is a really great behavior analyst in my day job field, I’m totally going to bring his work into here because he had an example that I just loved when he’s talking about, if you’ve got a girl who’s in a math class at school and she hates her math class and she doesn’t want to go to the math class, and you know, she puts off doing her math homework and all of these things.

Because she doesn’t understand the math. OK. And, yeah — do you guys remember Emi who was here for the fiber arts and the metal casting? I was 20 years out of high school when Emi explained to me over lunch how the quadratic formula worked. And I was like, why did nobody explain this to me in school? Because now I can understand it and now I can actually do it 20 years later anyway. So if I don’t have that information on how that works now, I’m just feeling overwhelmed by it.

I’m going to put off doing this homework because it just makes me feel stupid. And Jesús talks about how, you know, some people approach that as, “well, let’s give her the right medications to make her feel happy and hope that works, and hope that makes her happier in class.” But the problem is she doesn’t understand how to do the math. Like you have to break this down and have to teach her. When she feels competent and fluent in the process, then she’s going to feel better about math class.

So it doesn’t matter how much dark chocolate I throw at my accounting, if I have not broken my accounting down in a way that I can do it and not feel overwhelmed by it, I’m still going to resist it. I’m still going to resent it. So sorry. I’m going to catch up on the chat here just for a second. Oh yeah. Yeah, I guess so. Christine is pointing out massive do it all now projects make you hate the task more and put it off longer for the next time. Yeah. You guys remember, I think we talked about in the reinforcement episode, rewards versus reinforcement, like, again, jumping back. And I talked about the Three Hundred Peck experiment. And you can you can build up these huge, huge projects, but increases the delay to start them every single time? There we go. Maintenance is a skill, Bridger is pointing out.

Yeah, if you only ever work in huge productivity binges, it does not teach you how to maintain. Exactly. Absolutely. And then it just gets to be a bigger problem for your next binge. So Grace is pointing out you can’t fix everything in one huge binge. Getting all caught up is a myth of adult life. There is no caught up, OK? There is managed. There is corralled. There is no caught up. Absolutely, great point. OK, so what we’re getting from this and it looks like we’re all on the same page here, we need to take the overwhelming, huge thing that is scary.

We need to break it into bite size pieces. We need to do one thing at a time. And this is why, you know, again, last fall we talked about getting started with a marketing plan, getting started with other snapshots, you know, all of this kind of thing. I am a huge, huge fan of, I’m going to pick one piece of this. I’m going to do one piece of this today and then maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, I will add another piece and now I will be maintaining two pieces.

But I’m already good at the first piece. OK, I’m not going to add the second piece ’til I’m making that first piece happen, that sort of thing. I am so sorry about the lag. I actually have dropped frames of less than one percent over here in my end. So for once it’s not, for once it’s not me. So I really apologize about the lag. So I’m not sure what’s going on with that.

So and then going back here, the other huge, huge, huge part of this is when you break down your pieces and when you create a system for yourself and when you break this down to a way that it is comprehensible and you can be good at it and achieve it, do not forget to reinforce your good behavior. OK, and again, you know, it did the reward versus reinforcement episode, those are significantly different. Reinforcement is much better for maintaining behavior.

So there we go. So OK. Bridger says that about the lag, “oh, fabulous, glad it’s just me.” I’m not glad it’s you, but I am glad that it’s not broadstream issues. OK, OK, so that is who we’ve talked about fear. We’ve talked about just overwhelm and I don’t feel comfortable and how to do it. You know, all of these things that, that are, that are playing into things, a lack of lack of clear direction.

Another reason for procrastination, and this is probably particularly relevant in our current era, is there are life things going on. And I don’t feel like I need to explain this one as much as I would have had to in maybe 2018, 2019, when I talked to people about this. But now that 2020 has happened, most of us have a better idea of what this feels like. I know so many creators who did not create in 2020 or who created significantly less or who created significantly different things, and that is that did not magically vanish on January 1st.

There’s still a pandemic happening. There’s still political fallout going on. There’s still social and relationship fallout based on the other things that have been going on. So this this is what I’m here to say is, you all know this is going on. I’m telling you, it’s a legitimate influence on your creativity and on your productivity. So even before we had global pandemic and, you know, political drama and all of that, you know, I talk to people who had a death in the family and they stopped writing, while they were processing that. And sometimes that would last for days, sometimes for weeks, sometimes for months. You know, all of that is a completely whatever it is, it’s normal that that’s there. That’s not procrastination. That’s prioritization. OK, you’ve got other things to be doing, other things to be worried about. You have other things to be spending that mental energy on. In some cases, your creativity is an outlet that helps you process.

In other cases, those energies are going places and you don’t have leftovers for creating. Both of those are valid. OK, that’s and and I’m not going to– both of those are valid, even for the same personality, even for the same person. So an example for me, I remember very clearly I had a day where I discovered, I had two dogs at the time, first dog had terminal cancer and the second dog got a diagnosis of terminal cancer.

And I went home knowing that I was losing — different kinds of cancer. And I went home, you know, knowing that I was losing both of my dogs. And I sat down and I wrote a short story completely standalone, related to absolutely nothing that I had done. And I sent off that ugly, raw, rough draft and sold it. So clearly something happened where I was able to just channel all of that energy into, I need to be somewhere else tonight, not here.

And that worked for me, in that moment that worked for me. Fast forward to 2020. I stalled out so hard, I produced so much less and of such… I had to work a lot harder in 2020 to produce even something a little bit even close to what I’d been doing. So that’s just me talking on my own personal examples there. What I’m trying to say is life events, life stresses will affect you different ways at different times, and it’s all within the range of normal.

Adding the stress of, “I should be working, I should be creating, I should be better than this. If I don’t do this, I’ll never write again.” You know, putting those stresses on yourself does not fix the situation. It’s probably going to make it worse. And I’ll just emphasize, you’re not broken forever. You’re giving the well a chance to refill. The well will refill. You will be able to work again. But, you know, trying to draw out of it while it’s trying to refill is not going to speed the process at all.

When you come back to it, depending, you know, you may you may ease in just a little a little bit of work. You may just plunge in. OK, today I’m writing again, and here’s my ten thousand word day. You might come back to what you were doing. You might come back and just need to try something completely different from your normal stuff to get back in the swing of things again. Whatever it is, normal is an incredibly wide range here.

So just if you have something that’s life events, give yourself that latitude. So that’s where. That’s where I am with that. And then one more reason why procrastination might happen, and that is, oh, hold on. I just want to take a break real fast because the chat finally caught up and like everything came in at once. Oh, great point, Alena is pointing out there are studies that show that the effect of significant positive or negative emotional experiences — I always point out to to people distress and eustress are both stress, that both of those are big events — positive or negative emotional experiences can be detected in a person’s brain chemistry months later. OK, so these are significant things. And Christina says she likes giving the well time to refill. Yeah, that’s that’s the thing. So, yeah, guys, I’m so sorry about the lag. I could tell like like the chat went totally dead and I didn’t think you out of it just vanished.

So something’s going on with the lag. I apologize. It’s still looking really great at my end. I don’t think it’s me, but somewhere and maybe on the Twitch level, it’s slowing down. OK, so let’s go on to the next reason where you might you might find procrastination in your life. And that is I just plain don’t want to. This is not reinforcing to me on any level. And so if that happens, let’s look at your motivation and again, here I am talking about writing or other creative pursuits.

At some point, you know, the oil in your car needs changed. You know, I don’t I don’t care, you know, how how that makes you feel. The oil in your car needs changed. OK, but if it’s something that, you know, I am trying to make art, I am trying to do something creative. This should be a process that I am benefiting from, not that it is just a drain on me.

So maybe look at your motivation. Why am I doing this? Do I want to do this or am I telling myself I have to do this? So and here, like, you know, again, I’m speaking to a little LED, OK? I’m not calling anybody out specifically. But just as an example, if I say I’m a writer, but I spend most of my time drawing characters instead of writing them, which you can clearly tell, I’m not talking about myself.

My art’s pretty lame is the word I think we’re looking for. But if I, if I if I keep saying that I’m a writer and I keep saying I want to write, but I never actually write and I do a lot of drawing instead, maybe I would be happier in another medium. OK, maybe I liked the idea of writing. Maybe I like a certain image that goes with writing. Maybe somebody told me somewhere that I should be a writer, but actually I get far more enjoyment out of doing a different kind of art.

That’s valid.

That’s perfectly fine. Some things we have to do, no matter how we feel about them, they still we have to do them. Art is not one of those things. Art is something you do because it is good for you and it is good for other people. And and yeah, that’s just leave it there. Like, I want you to do some form of creative thing. I want you to do some form of art. I don’t care what form that is.

The form should be the one that works best for you. Caveat, I guess the exception to this is if art is your primary income, then sorry, you do have to do it. OK, but I’m going to venture to say that you’ve probably worked out a system to be able to create things. And if you’ve gotten to the point where art is your primary income, you’ve already grappled with this on some level. You’re probably not sitting here staring at what is procrastination with me.

Not that definitely not that professionals never hit procrastination, that is absolutely not true for all the reasons that we have covered beforehand. It’s just that you’ve probably got the probably already worked out. How do I deal with this, even if I don’t want to? Because you’re going to want to again later. It’s just that this particular story at this particular moment is really grinding my gears. And so but as soon as I get that done, I’m going to love my next project because otherwise I probably wouldn’t be in art as a career.

OK, I don’t know if I said that well. Just assume it made sense. So that is, if I look at something and I’m like, oh, man, like I keep saying that I want to do this form of art, but I keep not doing it, but I keep doing other things instead. Great. Like, I don’t care what the labels are. OK, just shift what you’re doing, shift to something you enjoy.

Ignore the thing that you tried that didn’t work for you and go with the thing that does work for you. So there we go. Oh, Bridger is asking about a massive poisoned cue, which I understand poisoned cue, but can you give me an idea of it? Give me an example of where it would be? Oh, exactly the same part of writing is the terrifying part and the appealing part. Yes. So this is I think it’s fair to say that is art like together in general, you know, like I mentioned earlier.

And by the way, feel free to go ahead and stick more clarification in the chat. I just understand that it might be a minute before it gets to me, so. What I was saying earlier about I’m working on something and it’s stretching me and I’m afraid I’m going to do it poorly, but also I’m doing it and it’s like this giddy thrill while you’re doing it. Yeah, so poisoned cue, I don’t know — Alena’s pointing out I might want to point that out.

I don’t know how academic we need to get on this point. What I guess what we’re going here is more of the internal conflict of it. And Bridger is pointing out, “look at me, like I want to share this art. But also I would immediately crawl in a hole and die if somebody looked at my art.”

And I’m rephrasing your statement slightly Bridger, because what you what you said was, “look at me. And if someone looked at me” and I’m going to draw a little bit of a division there between what I made and me are not necessarily the same thing. And I think it’s important, not necessarily — they are not the same thing. And I think it’s important to clarify that distinction, especially for the reasons like we talked about for criticism in January or February. I don’t know when that was.

Time has no meaning. But, you know, if somebody critiques my work, that is not me. OK, so I really want to have that distinction. There is, somebody can give either a very valid or a completely unfair criticism of my art, but I’m still a worthwhile human being. OK, so I like to cultivate that distinction early on. So that’s why I’m going to qualify your phrasing just a little bit. But the question of that internal conflict between I want to share this thing I made, but also what if people look at this thing I made?

And I’m just going to say, by the way, I don’t think we all get past that ever. OK, there might be some creators who very advanced in their careers do not have any hesitation. That is not most of the people I know. OK, most of us, I think like let me share your my the story, this poem, this song, this painting, whatever I think most of us are like, you know, here, stranger, look at this

while I stand here naked and you stare at it. Like that is, it is an intensely because I did make it OK. It did come out of me. It is not me, but it definitely came out of me and it can feel very personal and very vulnerable.

Bridger just like, oh no, I was afraid of that. Yeah. I was sorry. Bad news. Like we’re all going to be there forever. But here’s the thing. Drawing that distinction between my art and me, I think really helps there because if somebody. Again, whether it’s perfectly valid, fair criticism or whether it’s completely unfair criticism, all of that is about this work. It’s not about me. So that’s a good distinction. Yeah.

C’est moi Rhonda is pointing out some projects leave you more naked than others. Absolutely. Yeah, that is that is a true thing. Kate says some of us don’t want people looking at us or our work. Yeah, Kate, I’m going to wait until you’re sleeping and then I’m going to steal your novels and share them with people because stop procrastinating. I said I wasn’t going to call anybody out and I’ve said I was speaking generally, but I want that story. The end.

Sorry, Kate, Kate teases things. She puts snippets on the Internet and then doesn’t give me a book, like so rude. So. All right, where’s it going with this? OK, so part of this goes back to what is the motivation? So I am my first reader. First job is I want to write a story that I enjoy. I want to I might not enjoy the entire writing process. There are definitely times when I’m not enjoying the writing process, definitely times.

So I’m like, this is a stupid game. Why do I play this? OK, but I always like having arrived. You know, when I’m done, I want to be able to look back and go, OK, yeah, I like this. All right. If if I don’t like the story, I don’t want to spend time with that story. I am always my first reader.

Sorry, got to interrupt myself for a second. The chat is backing me on, Kate needs to share her work. OK, I’m just saying. Yeah, OK, that’s recorded for posterity now. OK, so if. So I am my first reader that needs to be there. That is where the enthusiasm comes. That is where the motivation comes. That is where the “I made a thing” comes. OK, then. Let me put it out for someone else to enjoy. That is the key phrase for that part, I am not you know, let me put this out for people to judge.

Let me put this out for people to evaluate. Let me put it. You know, I don’t need to I don’t need to put this in crazy scary words. I am going to find people who like the kind of thing I like. I have written something I like. I’m going to share it with people who like that kind of thing. OK, and this is totally off topic, but I’m going here, this is where a lot of novice writers get in trouble because we write something and then we share it with people who are close to us and those people who are close to us, biologically, physically, whatever it might be, are not necessarily the audience for that kind of thing.

And so then we get either, you know, it’s damned with faint praise. Oh, that’s nice, dear. OK, that’s not what I was going for. Or you get. Oh, my gosh, I had no idea you were into, you know, fly-Fishing romance or whatever. And and so you get that early feedback that is not really helpful feedback. It’s not particularly reinforcing. And it has nothing to do with the quality of your work.

It has everything to do with that was the audience it was given to. And it’s not that they are, you know, bad readers or whatever the case may be, it’s that that wasn’t their audience. Like people who are related to me and my cousin by blood is not necessarily the person who shares my enthusiasm for a particular subgenre. Right. So, OK, can Bridger. Yes, Bridger. We’re still waiting for the paranormal fly-fishing romance.

That is still a thing. So I think this is this is a near universal problem, especially for writers at the start of their career, because they haven’t connected with a good critique group. They have not connected with other writers and guys. I’m telling you, it’s 2021.

We have the Internet. It is so much easier to find people and communicate and share with them than it was 20 years ago. Like like there’s no excuse at this point. OK, so go ahead and, you know, find people who are into the things you are into and share with them as opposed to. All right, I’ve I’ve put my my soul and my heart’s blood on this paper. I now I’m going to ask people who don’t like this thing to look at it and tell me about it, OK?

You can set yourself up for a much better experience just by choosing where you share things. And I put myself here like guys, I burned so many friendship bridges, I guess at the beginning. Not that not that we stopped being friends after they read my stuff. That’s not where I was going with this. But, you know, I was like, hey, let me share this thing. And of course, being friends, they’re going to be like, sure, I’ll look at it like it’s not really at all my kind of thing.

And so they’re not excited about it like it’s their kind of thing. And why should they be? It’s not their kind of thing. And I think it’s just so much easier to go and find somebody who’s going to appreciate that. OK, I’m totally missing out. There’s some amazing stuff going by in the chat. Right? So Kate is pointing out the reward for finishing edits is criticism and more edits. Criticism, remember, is not always bad stuff.

Criticism also means we point out what is good. That is what good criticism is.

So that part where, you know, I’m reading something for somebody and then I write in the side, I am literally giggling and wiggling like while I’m reading this. That is good criticism, OK? And I love when people give me notes. Kate’s actually very good. Kate’s one of my people that that gets to see all of my big stuff before it goes out and gives me fantastic notes in the margin. And I’m so excited when I get a critique back, which means criticism is good.

So anyway, fly fighting. Yes, we’re going to start pit fights for our insects. That is awesome.

What is going on? Okay, so now everybody’s ganging up on Kate to get her to release. So great. My work here is done. OK, we’re just going to bully Kate into giving us novels. That’s what’s going on now.

So. Okay. Yeah. So happy to recap for you, Rhonda. Everybody go sign up for KT Ivanrest’s mailing list and then harass her mercilessly till we get our novels. OK, all of that. Where am I going? So. Oh, inner conflict between look at this and don’t look at this. I’m going to eventually get there. I promise. Again, I think just having that distinction between me and my work really takes a lot of pressure off.

So that’s a really important thing. And I really do emphasize, you know, drawing those distinctions and choosing your words to draw those distinctions, because even if I say this is true, but then I keep talking about it as if it’s me, it’s going to make a difference.

Oh hey SableAradia just raided. Thanks guys for coming in. We’re talking about procrastination and fear, all these things so. Oh we are being boarded. Great great, literary pirates are coming in. Fantastic. All right, so I’ve got the all the procrastination is the new sensation sweeping the nation, and there’s probably a great dance step that goes with that. So, yeah, if I’m looking at this conflict between, you know, I want to share my work, but also if people look at it, then they’re seeing me, and I get that.

I really do, especially when. Oh, my gosh, guys, I cannot I’ve said this before, but it is so, so, so true. I wrote Shard & Shield, which is in what I what I call my angsty epic fantasy. There’s some parts of that that are pretty raw. I wrote the bulk of that when I was either unpublished or baby-published.

Like, I have stuff out but nobody knows about it, kind of thing. You know, I’ve sold some shorts. I’ve done, you know, but — I’m still not like a big name, but I’m just saying, there was no reason anybody, I had no delusions of what publishing grandeur might look like. And that allowed me to be so much more open in writing Shard & Shield. And to be able to do that stuff because it was not.

You know, I quote Tosca Lee a lot, “write as if no one will ever read it.” That is fantastic advice that I heartily endorse. And it was easier when nobody was reading it. And then Shard & Shield came out. People liked it. People talked about it. I would see it go by on Instagram and all kinds of amazing, cool things. And then I’m writing later books in it and I’m like, oh, people are going to look at this and I’m not kidding.

The amazing difference in being able to work on that and to process that and and, yeah, if you’re looking at the timeline and it’s totally weird. Shard & Shield, I wrote the bulk of that before The Songweaver’s Vow and other things came out. So, yeah, the timeline is a little funky. Just ignore it, because everything, you know, stuff is not getting published in the order of creating. Why would it. But you know, as I’m working on later books in that series, I have to stop and consciously talk myself through, write as if no one will ever read it.

Because if I sit there thinking about how people are going to react to this. It’s it’s paralyzing and that’s the number one reason for procrastination is fear. OK, there it is. It fear, it fuels that.

So my job is to create that first draft. I am my first reader. I am my primary reader. I need to create the story that I enjoy. Then I can share it with other people who will enjoy that. OK, so I have no idea at this point. I think I started answering this question like twenty seven minutes ago. I don’t even know if we’re in the same hemisphere as the original question, but yeah, yeah, we can feel free to, to, to nudge me back to wherever we wanted to go in the chat and we could do that.

And the chat has slowed down again. So I’m assuming there’s another big lag logjam that’s going to come through all at once again. So I apologize for whatever’s going OK. Good. Bridger says this is good. Good. Yeah. And I just again, I will reiterate Tosca Lee, write as if no one will ever read. It is one of the single best pieces of writing advice I have heard and I can share. Because if I sit there and I’m like, I’m going to write this scene, my mom might read the scene, my mother in law could theoretically read this scene.

People, you know, whatever.

Like, it’s just going to, it’s just going to get me tied up. When I need to do is just sit down and write the story that I want told, tell myself this story, and then share it with people who would also like that story. So, OK. Yeah, so that’s a lot of reasons that procrastination could happen. I think what we do do we do five, I didn’t number them one count we found count here. Fear.

Fear is the really big one. Fear is the storykiller. There we go. Lack of direction. I just don’t know how to do it. There is a life thing that is going on. I just plain don’t want to. Yeah, all of those are reasons and we talked about ways to address those, so hopefully could be something helpful in there.

So next week is a Learn With Me week and this is normally where I would tell you what our topic is. But the truth is I don’t have a topic for next week. I still I’ve got some some feelers out for people that I would like to come in and talk. I have several subjects that I’m looking, excuse me, trying to get people in for next week and I just haven’t been able to confirm anybody yet, so.

Stay tuned. I guess I, I do there is a calendar that has every week’s topic that goes up that calendars on my website, or if you there’s a domain just To Write And Have Written that will take you there. And so you can always see things on the calendar there. And then I also share them on social media, if I remember, which I’m really not the best, should probably put that on a to do list somewhere.

So yeah. So just stay tuned. Well, we’ll find out what next week’s Learn With Me might be. And I was actually pretty funny. One of the one of the things that I was trying to to to get a person in for, and I called REI actually my local REI store, and it was like, hey, I’m going to ask the weirdest question that you’ve heard today.

The lovely staffer, she was just like, great, bring it!

But I was trying to pull one of one of their staff people who has been super awesome to to to be my interviewee. So. Well, we’ll see how that goes. We’ll see how it goes.

OK, and then, yeah, I know you usually do a lot of promo on this stream, you know, but if you’re here and this is helpful, please follow, subscribe like review, review the video, review the podcast by one of my books. If you want to be supportive like any of those things, liking, following, subscribing, reviewing all of the videos and stuff that actually does help share. So that would be great. So there we go.

And I know we had two new scripts subscribers tonight, which is fantastic. Thank you.

And I probably should be better about reminding people to do that. I just it’s not usually my priority, so. OK, so that is it for tonight. Thank you guys so much for chatting along and discussing with me. We are going to wrap here. It is Tuesday. It is Tuesday evening for me. This is To Write And Have Written. I’m Laura VanArendonk Baugh. We have talked about procrastination. My dog is cute and we are going to wrap it there.

Thank you.

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