Lack of Discipline. I have it.

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I suffer from a rather severe lack of discipline. Except when it comes to procrastination. I have developed my procrastination into an art over the years and will do absolutely anything to avoid doing something I’ve decided (or been told) needs to be done. You may have noticed a lack of posts here lately and my abundance of procrastination skills are quite definitely the culprit.

You see, I’ve found myself thinking things like, “I really should write a blog post,” “I really need to start working on those PCOS posts,” and “I really must work on my novel.”

Are you noticing a theme here? Should. Need to. Must. Once something falls into those categories, particularly if the word work is remotely associated to the action, it takes an act of the gods to make me do what should-need-must be done — and I don’t believe in any gods. I would rather give myself hand cramps shredding a phone book (Shush. It’s a project I’m helping my Mister with.) than do anything which could, even loosely, be defined as work. If you’re following me on Twitter (like you should be), you’re well aware of my experiments in birdhouse building, helping my neighbors build trusses for their new cabin, reading up on predator-management solutions, having long-winded arguments with my laptop, and downloading dozens of apps to manipulate images on my cell phone. Most of this, has been done out of sheer boredom. Hell, today I spent nearly two hours replying to an email from the lovely and talented Patricia Iles because she asked me to recount an incident from my past and mentioned her ideas for the third book in her Light Gatherers series (I’m nearing the end of book two and plan to post reviews of the first two books in the series within a few days). The email was absurdly long, but I do hope I managed to make her giggle once or twice, think a bit, and not groan.

So, the question becomes not “Why don’t I have any discipline?” but “Why do I waste countless hours I could be writing and accomplishing useful things hunting for distractions?”

The answer is simple. I’ve begun to think of writing my book and this blog as work. I have always been one of those people who will fight tooth and nail to avoid doing things that need to be done. My house is beginning to look like it should be on an episode of Hoarders given what a giant mess the living room and kitchen are, simply because I dislike the idea of doing things I should do. I’d much rather take a flight of fancy, help someone else with a project, etc. It may sound like I’m bragging, but this is a Very Bad Thing. Especially if I want to finish this novel within a year of having started it.

Luckily, I have a few ideas as to how to fix my issues with discipline. I need to turn things into a game. I need to make working on my novel fun. I need to make housework fun. No, I’m not sure how to do this, but I am rarely at a loss for ideas to try.

You see, I do want desperately to play in Dawn and Nick’s zombie riddled world, so I’m going to change the way I think about it. I’m going to sit back and ask myself what happens next. I’m going to interview my characters. I’m going to name the rest of the members of the damned slaver camp. I’ll ask my Twitter followers, friends, etc, to suggest ideas and ask questions. I find I am the most inspired when I surprise myself by answering other peoples’ questions about my work. So ask me questions, my dear readers. There may only be forty-one people following this blog, but if just a few of you ask questions, it will help. I’m going to take on more writing challenges with other authors like Miya Kressin and whoever else I can find. I’m going to challenge myself to write at least one hour every day while my Mister is at work. I’ll challenge myself to see if I can write longer the next day. Maybe I can write an hour while he’s at work and an hour or so after he goes to bed seeing as I fail at going to bed at a decent hour, too.

Above all, I am going to stop looking at writing as the evil, four letter W word, and start looking at it as something I love to do. Because it is something I love to do. Once I get started, I have trouble stopping. My problem is in the starting. When I’m writing, there is little which can truly distract me unless I find what I’m writing boring. And if I think it’s boring while I’m writing it, it’s probably time to start writing something else because it will be just as dull to read.

So, there is my advice for those stubborn procrastinators whose delicate sensibilities are also offended by a little work. Make it a game, make it a challenge, do anything you can to make what needs doing fun. Because, really, don’t we all write because we love writing?

A General Update on Various Things:
I’ll be interviewing Heidi Garrett sometime next week and hope to have the interview cleaned up and posted within a few days of giving it. I’ll likely announce on Twitter when the interview is concluded.

Patricia Iles has also agreed to an interview! The logistics have not yet been settled, so I’m not sure when it will be posted. Likely, within a week or so.

I am, in fact, still planning to post an article or two about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in honor of PCOS Awareness Month before the end of September, so please keep your learning caps on and hope I find the wherewithal to get them researched and written. I know I’ll be telling my own story as well as quoting a few others’. There will also be a great many links.

I’ve decided to take offers for my proofreading services. Sounds like work doesn’t it? Incorrect. I actually adore proofreading and editing and do it quickly and with a gleeful heart. I tend to catch everything even when reading for pleasure. I’ll just have to write up a post and get the word out that I’m willing, ready, and cheap. And I don’t have a mountain of editing projects ahead of yours. Hell, maybe I’ll include an honest review and author interview on this blog (no, I’m not charging for reviews) if I like the book/story/article/whatever.

I’m also open for more books to review. If you’ve written a book and you’d like me to review it (be warned, I read like a writer), shoot me an email at paigenolley AT gmail DOT com. I’d love to hear from you. However, I lack the funds to purchase any books at any price, but your novel could be among the 3,000+ books on my Kindle.

NinjaEdit:
I have received several blog awards over the last few weeks. I’ll be posting a single, massive acceptance post as soon as I can convince myself it will be fun. I promise.

And thank you so very much to those who gave me these awards. 🙂

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12 comments on “Lack of Discipline. I have it.
  1. liamodell1 says:

    Glad you’re doing some interviews on your blog soon! 🙂 I’ve done a couple myself: Cleverly entitled “Liam Interviews:”

  2. Wyrd Smythe says:

    Heh, nothing quite as challenging as the blank page. At first, in the short paragraph that beings with, “Luckily,” you’re using the “need to” terminology, but in the graphs following, you use the far better, “I will!” The words we use can set us up to fail or succeed.

    One step is to consider your words your bond. There is little we can control in life, but we can control what we say and what we do once we say it. Once you say, “I will do X,” that is your bond, and you must keep your word.

    The second step is being aware of how you talk about the future. As you’ve found, “need to,” “should,” “plan to,” and “want to” all give you an out. The very words let you off the hook. If you say, “I will,” then you have no out. It’s a commitment.

    It may be helpful to recognize that writing is work (at least sometimes) and as such it does require discipline, commitment and effort. It won’t always be play, no matter how much you love it. It may be necessary to rethink how you feel about work. Perhaps thinking of it as “working towards your goals” is helpful, as opposed to the drudgy “working for a living” or “working for the man.”

    One last tip: mileposts. It can be helpful to have points along the way that give you a sense of progress. Number of pages written, for example. Anything that lets you look back at the, um, work you’ve accomplished so far. Some find it useful to divide tasks into fractions. “I’m 1/4 done.”

    You just need to find work habits that work for you! Good Luck!!

    • Paige Nolley says:

      Thanks for the advice!

      I tend to use “plan to,” etc. when I’m not 100% certain I’ll make something happen. I do not abide liars well and am loathe to be one. When I say I WILL do something, I do it. Period. Maybe not in the timeframe I intended, but it does get done eventually.

      I’m trying desperately to change the way I think about work. It’s a process. Hopefully, the petulant child in me will accept the fact that work does not mean “endless, monotonous, grueling drudgery.”

      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        I do not abide liars well and am loathe to be one. When I say I WILL do something, I do it. Period. Maybe not in the timeframe I intended, but it does get done eventually.

        You and me both. Every word, so I know exactly where you’re coming from. (I’ve gotten static in relationships for not speaking more definitively about stuff I know is up in the air. I can’t even do the, “It’ll all be fine,” thing when I know damn well it may not all be fine.)

        I also share your hate of work, and it looks like we share the ability to work our asses off on stuff we don’t really think of as “work.” The “mile posts” trick does help. Back when I was shoveling snow or cutting grass, thinking of “okay, 1/10th done,” somehow made it seem easier. Or crossing off items on a list. The sense of progress helps.

        As you say, it’s a process!

      • Paige Nolley says:

        Hah. Maybe we’re related somehow. Could be genetics. I function well with mileposts. The problem is beyond setting word count goals, they don’t work well with my writing style. I don’t know how long this novel will be, so it’s hard for me to judge how far along I am.

        I don’t really plot beyond writing a piddly little list of things that should happen at some point. This book could be anywhere from 70,000 to 150,000 words. I won’t know until it’s almost finished. Maybe not even then. All I know right now is I’m nearing the end of what will probably be the second chapter. So very vague, I know. That’s how my creativity organ seems to work– a few brilliant flashes of clarity in a giant swirl of vague.

      • Wyrd Smythe says:

        I see what you’re saying. The writer Robert Parker, if I recall correctly, had the work habit of writing five pages per day. No more, no less. It was like his 9-5 job, in a sense.

        And if I still recall correctly, he wrote with only a vague outline of his story. Just started writing the five pages and saw where that took him.

      • Paige Nolley says:

        Exactly that. There are quite a few of us “pantsers” out there.

  3. Nicole Bross says:

    A change of scenery always helps me when I get into a funk like that. Something as little as sitting in the front yard instead of the basement, or taking a mini-retreat to do nothing but write. I like your ideas for getting to know your characters better too! I’m a firm believer in doing something, even if it’s not working on the body of the novel, rather than doing nothing (that’s how I finally ended up with an outline after 17+ chapters).

    I don’t know much about your story other than it’s about zombies (which I love) so I’m not sure if my question is totally off-base or irrelevant, but here goes: do you believe your zombies have emotions and awareness of their former lives, and if they do, do you think they’re horrified with what they’ve become?

    • Paige Nolley says:

      Thanks do much for stopping by and the words of wisdom. My laptop isn’t portable (long story, but I did post about it) so I can’t do more than jot notes anywhere but my couch, but I’ll keep a change of scenery in mind.

      As to my zombies, they’re more a part of the world than characters. I don’t think they’re sentient enough to realize what they are. But, I think if they were the majority of them would be disgusted with themselves. There would be the rare few who would feel liberated to function on such primal levels, though. 🙂

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