The closer I get to finishing this novel, the trickier the demon of procrastination gets. Everything seems to get in the way, not the least of which is doubt.
Doubt comes and goes. I’ve accepted it as part of the writing process. The good writing days are fueled by creation, by discovering shiny new ideas, or ways of relating to the characters or the story. The bad days happen when I realized the story isn’t doing what I thought it was doing, or that it will never be as good I expect it to be. You know, that’s really OK too, or as Atom Egoyan put it “Don’t get depressed about not being where you want to be. This nagging feeling of anxiety is actually called ambition. Ambition is your friend.” And you know, the good writing days outweigh the bad. I wouldn’t keep writing otherwise.
But what about the flat days, the “I’ve had a long day at work”, “The bathroom needs cleaning”, or “Fringe is on TV tonight days”? Every day starts out like this for me. There’s always something I could be doing instead of writing, and sometimes there are things I do need to do instead, but I’ve devised a couple strategies to outplay procrastination.
My first go to strategy might sound strange, but I’ve heard from at least one other person that it works: I light a scented candle before I write. It’s a Pavlovian exercise. I started this about halfway through a draft, and now my brain associates the smell with writing time. It’s like a switch that tells me its time to get to work. (Incidentally, the candle I have on hand has a “Christmas garland” scent, so our apartment has smelled like pine trees and cinnamon for months)
Second of all, I’m not adverse to bribery. When I finish writing this draft I intend to hit the bookstore, finally use those movie tickets I’ve had sitting around, and those gift cards for a massage. There’s also a bottle of wine in the fridge, that’s been sitting there for more than a month. I might also whip up a new design for the blog. I am also looking forward to a break.
Just a few more days… almost there! 1.5 chapters, and one last checklist to go through.
Do you use any tricks to stay motivated?