Sunday, July 26, 2009


Oh, the power of the P word - Procrastination - Birds don't do it, bees don't do it. Even educated fleas don't do it. A squirrel would never do it. Yet, people find ways to do it all the time. Blame it on the prefrontal cortex that has the responsibility for complex cognitive behaviors and decision-making.

The word that causes stomachs to churn comes from Latin - procrastinatus. Pro - forward and crastinus - of tomorrow. Avoid today what you can defer until tomorrow.

For writers, the behavior becomes more complex in the initial stages of a writing project. If we push for the goal too soon (Goal-Tending), we miss the discoveries of ideas and new directions that weave into the ongoing process (Creative Meandering). Staying in the Doing of the project keeps motivation flowing and provides thrills we would not feel if we focused with linear vision on the result.

We need to understand more about our tendencies along the journey. Then we can develop techiques and ways to trick ourselves to push past reasons we avoid writing. This bring up the relationship between the P word and the B word (Writer's Block). Idealism and Perfectionism become untrustworthy partners. Know when to relent and strive for excellence instead.

Try a freewrite to examine your behaviors:

Take a look at your habits of delay in all areas of life when deadlines loom or undesireable tasks confront.

How do you deal with your inconsistencies?

In what ways do you defer actions to cope with anxiety of starting or completing a task?

Do deadline pressures and guilt increase your motivation?

What does apprehension feel like in the body?

How do you define failure and recognize its effectiveness in accomplishing a goal?

What benefits do you gain by delaying behaviors?

How does time management factor in your choices?

What reward system do you use to get the job done?

Creative Write:
When you feel like avoiding the next pressing confrontation in life, write about how you will accomplish it within a time limit. Right now!

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