By Patti Shene Gonzales
I’m a procrastinator.
The one thing in my life I procrastinate most?
When I was pursuing my Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at what was then University of Southern Colorado in Pueblo, we were assigned a “term paper.” I assume a student was expected to work on the project for the majority of the term.
Not me. I started my 2500-word paper 72 hours before it was due. Mind you, this was long before computers and the Internet became common writing and research tools. You can imagine my stress level during those three days. My body functioned on junk food, caffeine, nicotine, and suffered from severe sleep deprivation. Still, I pulled it off and scored 24 out of 25 points.
Is this any way to live? Surely not!
Yet, thirty-five years later, here I am, preparing a blog post for the esteemed ACFW blog the day before it needs to reach Becky’s inbox. Why???
The problem has plagued me for years, and I’m getting way too old to delay finding a solution. I’ve researched the issue and now feel somewhat qualified to shed some light on the subject of today’s post that might help another aspiring writer out there.
Procrastination has symptoms as identifiable as those of a physical illness.
Laziness — It’s so much easier to do what is pleasurable than to accomplish what is necessary. It takes a lot less energy to read someone else’s book and analyze their successful techniques than it does to craft your own words.
Fear — You want to write, but you don’t trust that you have the knowledge or the skill to convey your message effectively.
Anxiety — A deadline is looming, whether for a blog post or a full-length novel, and you are not near ready to meet it. You are approaching panic mode.
Self-loathing — At the end of the day, you look back and wonder what in the world you accomplished. The house may be clean, volunteer activities fulfilled, but not one word has made it from your keyboard to the computer screen.
Procrastinators need to face the fact that they have a “condition” or “illness” that can be treated. If the diabetic continues to ignore his symptoms of thirst, fatigue, and numbness, or the cardiac patient explains away her chest pain, the end result spells disaster.
The person afflicted with a physical illness needs to take certain steps to reach optimum health. So does the procrastinator.
Investigate — Just like the diabetic or cardiac patient, learn the nature of your affliction. There is plenty of information available on how to win the battle against procrastination. Blogs, research articles, magazine pieces, even the Bible weighs in on the subject!
Activate — A diabetic doesn’t gain relief from all of his symptoms with his first dose of insulin or sugar-free meal. It takes time to build a healthy lifestyle, and you need to start somewhere. Even a goal of a hundred words a day yields five hundred words in a week with the luxury of weekends off, and that’s an average blog post word count.
Isolate — Certain foods are poison to the cardiac patient. A high cholesterol, high salt diet spells a death sentence for her. The writer’s poisons are the telephone, the Internet, the TV. Distance yourself from them – as far away as possible!
Celebrate — A person who gains control of a medical condition feels like they have a second chance at life. Taking charge of your writing life by overcoming procrastination, seeing your completed thoughts in print, gives you cause to celebrate – perhaps a whole new career.
Patti Shene Gonzales hosts Step Into the Light, a weekly interview style blog talk radio show, (will resume broadcasting this fall), where she promotes those who share God’s love through writing and other ministry outlets. Patti is published in two anthologies and local publications and has three western novels in progress. Visit her on Facebook or Twitter.