Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gaming the Lemon Tree

Ah, procrastination.  Where would I be without you?  Probably in my beach-side condo enjoying the fruits of my best-selling novel, stopping only to refresh my mojito and consult with my stock broker.  But, alas you are a lemon tree.  Generous in providing a constant supply of lemons for my lemonade making pleasure.  Can I game the Lemon Tree?  Can I actually use procrastination to my benefit? 

Ways I creatively procrastinate:

Scenario 1 - I've been putting off starting a big project.  I also hate doing the dishes.  So, I decide that I only have to set up my project and get started on the first part.  I get the project set up and all of a sudden, those dishes have to be washed right now, by gum.  This works so well, that sometimes I'll pull out the big project even when I don't need to work on it, just to scare myself into doing chores. 

Scenario 2 - I've hit a slow spot in my WIP.  All of a sudden, that idea that has been percolating in the back of my head starts demanding attention.  Write me now, write me now.  In the past, I would just drop what I was doing and run after the new shiny.  But, I've learned to seduce myself with the new activity.  If I get one more page done, then I can procrastinate with the new idea.  Then working on the new thing seems more like a guilty pleasure than work. 

Scenario 3 - Reading.  OMG, I love to read.  You see the books I've read column?  Those are only the ones I've finished.  Multiply that by about four or five, to account for the ones I scanned or didn't finish, and you get some kind of idea of my literary appetite.  *I used to finish every book I started, but if it doesn't do it for me, away it goes.  Life is too short for sucky books.*  When I'm in a big project, I limit my reading to books on writing and those in my genre (unless a book comes out by a favorite author, like today.) Go, Kim, Go.
  That way, if the reading jones hits me too hard, I am still working.  I'm reading about my craft or doing market research. 

There are so many activities to choose from during my day.  I try to keep a steady supply of profitable ones in rotation, so that if I'm running from one, I'm still moving forward.  For someone like me, with a short attention span, it is a remarkably efficient way to stay on track. 

What ways do you all have to creatively procrastinate?

Here's an interview with Ms. Harrison. Enjoy!


Lt. Cccyxx said...

I'm always laying out too many things to do, especially given that I know I need some down time. So I've tried to become more realistic lately - if I get 2/3 of what I intend to accomplish done, that is still pretty darned good. Everything gets done eventually, everything inches forward, just more slowly than I'd ideally like.

I guess my big one is kind of like your scenario 1. If I have the choice of three different things to do, and they're all worthwhile, then no matter what I choose I'm still moving in the right direction. But I give myself the choice (unless I'm facing a real deadline) and just go with it.

My workstyle has always seemed to be more about periods of intense activity alternating with periods of little or no activity (both with writing and my day job). This does not fit in with the traditional workplace and yet here I am. I'm sure I could be more productive overall in a non office environment.

April W said...

I alternate between periods of intense activity, almost obsessive, and then I slow way down. That is why I try to have productive activities at every pace.

I've always had a very flexible schedule. That is the best thing about bartending. I don't know how I would stand up to 9-5 and trying to write. I applaud all you guys who manage it.

Abby said...

I've lived most of my writing days on the ebb and flow of creativity. It's a pain in the butt. I'll go for two weeks high on writing and then another two weeks of hating anything creative. BUT, I've found that I'm my best editor when I hate my creative side, so at least I can push through a manuscript with edits while the rest of me is still. It is working so far, but surely it'll change as quickly as my moods do. Ah, well.

April W said...

That is a great idea, Abby. Btw, I love the new look of your blog.