NaNoWriMo Tip #3: Procrastinate!
We’re nearing the end of the month now and time is becoming quite important. But as the world outside of your writing demands you to do more than you think you can handle, you need to find a way to manage stress. This may sound contrary to what you feel like you should be doing, but it may just be time for you to start procrastinating.
Yes, that is right, procrastination may be a helpful tool right now.
Now when I say procrastination, I do not mean that you should stop thinking about your story and skip a night of writing. Take some time to do something that relaxes you, something that takes little brain power. Maybe for you that means doing the dishes, organizing your library alphabetically by author, or even writing a short scene that has nothing to do with your NaNo piece.
In taking take a break like this, you give yourself a chance to mull over what to do in your story without being focused on it. You also have a chance to view it from another perspective, rather than just in looking at the text.Here is an example of procrastination in a segment of my own writing:
From “The Magic Bullet of Writer’s Block: Why Procrastination Isn’t Always That Bad”
Hmm. Procrastination. What to say about procrastination? Maybe I’ll just stick some research in later. I turn to Facebook. Picture of cows. Picture of dog. Suggested post. Article about pregnant weightlifters. Ooh. Wait. No. I’m writing on procrastination, not exercising. Although–
11:25 PM. My eyes widen. Fourteen minutes have already passed, and only thirteen lines are on the page. How will I be able to get through this? This is torture! The chocolate has left my mouth sticky and hot–acidic from the saliva and thick from the last bits of sugar residue. I need water.
By procrastinating actively, a person may take care of other obligations, pushing the biggest or least motivated task to the end when there is less time. Unlike in passive procrastination, even before the final job is started, the procrastinator is already mulling over what must be done in his or her mind. By both creating time pressure and taking additional time for subconscious thought on the subject, productivity increases.
I open the cupboard. Mug or cup. Cup. Which one? Which one? Star Wars. Yes. Huh, I could probably write about how I’m procrastinating right now. The blue shimmer of R2D2 shakes back and forth in the light, its holographic finish looking like a limited edition Pokémon card from the ‘90s. I fill it with water from my lime green Brita filter and take a sip. Essay . . . Right. Gotta do that. Gotta get going. Can’t go to bed yet. Can’t give up.
As a writer, I often find myself procrastinating, saving my papers until the last minute, writing until 1 AM or 2 AM or even until ten minutes before class starts. Some days I am active in my procrastination, cleaning or listening to music until I get tired and realize I need to type up my homework before going to bed. Some days I am passive, sitting at my desk for hours, daydreaming my time away until I write whatever slightly sensical argument comes to mind because I need to be leaving the apartment.
It took me a long time to discover that there was a difference, that it wasn’t all just a bad habit. Sometimes procrastinating gives me a thought to write about, a story to run with, or the energy to race through a paper. It isn’t all bad.
Note: SDWI is not affiliated with NaNoWriMo and the National Novel Writing Month site (http://www.nanowrimo.org). We are separate organizations. SDWI simply has some members and instructors who participate in NaNoWriMo and want to support the efforts of other locals who are interested in that program.
Allie Frazier is a Writing student at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is currently interning for San Diego Writers Ink and hopes to one day go into publishing.