Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Dive in

Photo courtesy of "Dan"/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Golly gosh, Batman, it’s now February. Where did January go? February always zips by so quickly because it’s only 28 days and then comes March. I can already see some of my plans for the first quarter skating on thin ice.

Some of you know Fiona and I (plus our two much loved kelpies) are relocating to Melbourne. Both of us are new to such a move and, perhaps a little naively, thought it would be a lot easier to find a suitable place to rent. But alas, I’m still in Sydney and Fi is continuing her weekly commuting routine that is now quite tiresome. Moving activities have consumed more time than I expected impacting writing time.

So what do we do when life gets unusually busy, unexpected events emerge and/or things you anticipated would take less time take considerably more?

Procrastination

Often as a result of changed circumstances we allow the buffeting waves of life to curtail other planned activities. I’m the first to admit I can be overly precious about waiting for “ideal” conditions for writing. I fuel my procrastination by telling myself I’ll catch up tomorrow. Then tomorrow arrives and very few words get written.

Perhaps after the excitement of our New Year goal setting activity has lulled we’ve become nervous about starting that something new we had listed. The new manuscript, the email campaign, increasing our social media presence, or whatever it may be. Once again, we wait for the perfect conditions.

Then there’s the perfectionist in us all. We won’t start something until we’ve read everything there is on the subject or consulted with a cast of thousands or … you get the drill.

But that target we set only a few weeks ago isn’t going away anytime too soon. 

1. Start

Momentum is so important. Even if times are uncertain or the procrastination bug has grabbed you simply starting is a powerful first step.

“There are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over, and it’s because you fall over that you learn to save yourself from falling over.” (Richard Branson)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting aimless and unfocused activity simply to get a monkey off your back. Take a first step: open that blank page, mail off your current WIP to a critique partner, join Mailchimp, and so on.

2. Modify your Commitment (if possible)

So it’s been a long time since you hit that 2,000 word daily limit that got you so far writing your first manuscript. Maybe it’s only 200 words to start. Do something manageable and soon you’ll see the benefits of momentum.

3. Exercise Grace

To yourself.

We’re often our harshest critics. Negative recriminating self-talk can start to dominate our thoughts. This only fuels the fear.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t—you’re right.” (Henry Ford)

Be kind to yourself. Congratulate yourself on achieving those 200 words. Don’t edit your day’s achievement. Leave that for the second draft.

4. Engage your faith

How often do we jump into something and do it on our own? Jesus wants to do it with us; in fact, He’ll lead the way if we allow Him.

I was only telling a friend today how amazed I was when I pulled Angelguard out of the draw after four years of not touching it, how quickly I was able to re-write it. I know that wouldn’t have been possible unless I’d allowed Jesus to guide my writing over that three-month period.

“There’s not a day that you won’t need it; there’s not a situation that won’t demand it. What is it? The power of Jesus.” (Paul David Tripp)

How are your plans for 2015 coming along?

What tips do you have for when times get turbulent or procrastination begins to limit your productivity?




Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

10 comments:

  1. Hi Ian - ah yes, procrastination. Some great tips there, thank you. I find making a start and celebrating every step forward are definitely helpful in overcoming it. Also, calling myself out on my fears, setting monthly goals and being accountable. Having been part of NaNaWriMo and MonthofPoetry - making a tough but realistic goal & then having a safe group where each milestone can be shared and celebrated really helps with keeping me on track. Because of MOP I've written just under 40 poems since Jan 1 & plus 2 short stories which have looming submission deadlines.

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    1. Wow, Jeanette, you have started 2015 in a big way. Fabulous effort.

      Yes, monthly goals and accountability are so important in all areas of life. Refusing to listen to one's emotions is something a lot of authors/creatives do to ensure the fears are held at bay.

      Thanks for sharing and keep up that great productivity.

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  2. Sorry to hear of the difficulty of finding somewhere in Melbourne to rent, Ian--but I think you are doing wonderfully even to be able to find the time to write this blog, in the midst of everything that's happening in your life right now! I concur with all the points you've made above--particularly the one re exercising grace. I have had to learn to do that more in recent weeks because of family commitments and also because of tiredness hanging over from a busy 2014. I think it's about accepting God's love and grace, wherever we're at, and just taking those first small steps, as you say. Hope you find that Melbourne residence soon!

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    1. Thanks Jo-Anne for your encouragement. I hope you are able to soon move into a steadier writing routine.

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  3. What a timely message, Ian! Lately I've realised my desire for perfection has gotten in the way of actually accomplishing goals! Enjoyed the encouragement today.
    Praying that your find a new place soon in Melbourne and that you connect with wonderful new friends.

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    1. Hi Cherie, it always amazes me how often a blog post just happens to be the right word at the right time for some readers. I'm pleased that this one was just that for you.

      I'm often guilty of trying to over polish some aspect of my work (particularly with learning and research) instead of simply writing.

      Trust all is well and we're always especially blessed when you visit ACW.

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  4. Ian, great post! It can be hard to get our writing momentum back after a break. February is often a struggle for me because my kids have started back at school after the long summer holiday break. I need the self discipline to establish a new writing routine for the year. I hope you can find a suitable home in Melbourne to rent asap.

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    1. Thanks, Narelle. You're such a great example to the rest of us for how you manage to juggle all your responsibilities plus produce so much with your writing. Thank you for sharing your struggle with getting back into the swing of things during February. May you quickly get back in the groove.

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  5. Hi Ian, I hope that relocation happens soon! We're looking forward to welcoming you and Fiona to Melbourne. And book club, too. :)

    I love February because it means everything falls back into it's 'usual' school-based routine. That means more writing time for me.

    I loved that Henry Ford quote. He knew a thing or two about getting stuff done. I'm hoping my goal setting for 2015 yields the right writing results. I'm trying a few different strategies this year and so far I really like what I'm learning and how they're shaping my writing schedule and productivity. :)

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    1. Thanks, Dotti. Yes, really looking forward to becoming a Melburnian and joining Rel's Book Club.

      Be assured there are a bunch of us cheering you on with your writing and publishing goals in 2015.

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