Tag Archives: procrastination

DIG! Gold in the Mountains

20 Mar

beachmound2I am greedy gold digger. And you can be, too. But first, a day trip.

Last Saturday we met up with my husband’s family in nearby Cocoa Beach. As I enjoyed chatting with my sister-in-law from a low lounge chair, I watched Michael help my son build a sandcastle.

“What is that?” I asked my husband when he returned.

“A castle,” he said. “With a mote, see?”

To be clear, this was not a castle. It was a hill of sand with a plastic shovel shoved on top. Slurping the last of my Diet Coke, I prepared to answer the call. I would mold this plain monolith into an architectural triumph truly worthy of its oceanfront real estate. Or so I thought.

beachmoundThat’s how it is at the outset of imagining our creative project. We envision a grand construction, replete with well-hewn walls, arcing steps and majestic spires. Digging around our idea is the easy part. But like my sandy heap, when we dig into itto form it into something more than a moundit can feel like an unmanageable mountain. Parts we thought we were solid start to crumble as we touch them.

That’s how it was with my would-be historical novel. My initial years of staggered research would have never ended either, if it hadn’t been for my Chicks pushing me past it. I’d still be digging myself into a hole, hoping to find new treasure to help my story take shape. I was hiding under the seemingly legitimate cover of research, convinced I needed more to put it all together.

“You have enough,” Eva told me one day as we floated around her pool. “Don’t be afraid to fill in the blanks.” Some time later she gave me a pirate reference book I didn’t have, in which she wrote further assurances:

“Tracey, you fought a good fight, did all the research possible and now is time to walk the plank. Don’t be scared and jump right in. The water will feel warm and calming, and all those ideas will come out flowing.”

While Florida gopher turtles like this one dig holes in my yard for shelter, I want to come out of my safe hole and do a different kind of digging.

While Florida gopher turtles like this one dig holes in my yard for shelter, I want to come out of my safe hole and do a different kind of digging.

Every time I start a new scene, which I’m happy to say I did again this week, I get scared anew. The urge is to dig down into the earth to search for more glittering gems, or worse yet, to simply avoid picking up a shovel altogether.

But in order to actually create something, I need to dig inside. Inside my settings.  Inside my characters’ heads. Inside my plot. Inside my imagination.

“I have enough,” I remind myself. “Fill in the blanks.”

That’s where I’m digging now, onward and upward. I’m proud to be the greedy climber I am today. Inside is where the gold is. And however long it takes, I’m determined to find it, up in these here mountains.

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Seven Habits of Highly Effective Procrastinators

11 Mar
  1. It’s not due for a few days. I have plenty of time.

    I'll work on this n--Oh look, there's a bird!

  2. Okay, now I’m sitting down to work on an outline [oops, phone call from friend trumps the outline].
  3. I’ll work through the outline in my head as I watch that new movie with Hugh Jackman [Hugh Jackman trumps everything].
  4. Okay, now I’m going to sit down and—oh, look, a shiny object!
  5. Oh, shoot, it’s due in two days. I guess I better start. Hey—a Glee marathon!
  6. Um, it’s due tomorrow. Okay, I’m sitting down to work on this. After I run to Starbucks. Then to Target. Then to the bookstore.
  7. It’s due in a couple hours. Oh, well, I’m better under pressure anyway.

This is me. And yes, I would’ve gotten it finished, no problem.

A few years ago, I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that measures how you perceive the world and make decisions. My results were ENFP, which basically means I’m the following:

  1. Extroverted
  2. Procrastinator
  3. Blue-sky thinker
  4. Disorganized
  5. Easily distracted

In fact, every personality indicator I’ve ever taken has shown that I’m these things. The funny thing is that no one who knows me is surprised by this. I told one person I took the MBTI and he said in a disdainful tone, “Oh, you must be ENFP.” I thought that was hilarious (ENFPs are very easy-going, by the way).

You know what? This works for me. Not everyone plans a vacation out a year in advance, or creates drafts from outlines.  I’ve tried to fit into the mold of a planner, but it’s never worked for me. In college, I used to write my final paper, then the outline from it. The one time I tried to follow the formula and tried to plan, my grade suffered. I do much, much better under pressure (and I do meet my deadlines). Perhaps that’s one reason I’m a great multi-tasker, too.

To sum it up, everyone is different. If you have a formula that works for you, excellent! Don’t apologize, and don’t try to change. Embrace your so-called weaknesses and make them work for you.

I’m going back to work on my edits…um, later.

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