Be My Guest:
Louise White hosts Fantasy Author Kelly St Clare
July 10, 2015
Having read and loved the work of this hard working author, it is a privilege to share this insightful post with you all!
Taking the Pro out of Procrastination
By Kelly St. Clare
Unless you are a special breed of Super Author, you’ll have issues with procrastination. You may get this during certain phases of the writing process, certain times of the day, or may have trouble focusing every day!
With life experience, both inside and outside of writing, I’ve discovered a few things which work well for me and I would like to share them with all of you. These are techniques I’ve used in the writing of my series, The Tainted Accords, and they also enabled me to write while travelling through fifteen countries last year.
Hopefully they will stop you from dilly-dallying around!
Stephen King - “Find your own writing space.”
– Yes Stephen, I completely agree.
This isn’t so helpful for those travelling, but for the authors working from home, this will really help.
You need a “spot”.
It doesn’t matter if it’s an ergonomically set up, state-of-the-art study, but pick a quiet area where you can pluck away at a keyboard. Quiet is key! TV off, music low, and all distractions either minimal or, better yet, completely gone.
Having a routine goes hand in hand with the above. I work full-time at a physiotherapist. My hours are 8 am-7 pm, four days a week. During these four days I plan my social media and marketing (a necessary job) as I find the quality of my writing after these shifts is lower due to fatigue. When I get to Friday, watch out! I start writing at 9 am on Friday and Saturday and usually write all day. On Sunday I start at 10 am and work until at least lunch. Now, I didn’t tell you this as an indication of what you should do. Obviously having children, sports commitments, or a whole range of other situations will sculpt your writing schedule. But it gives you an idea, and shows you it’s okay not to write each day – as long as you do write at some stage in the week.
So figure it out! Where can you fit in a couple of hours of writing? How do you write? All at once, whopping out 8,000 words plus, or in smaller and more frequent lots of 2000? When are you most productive? At 5 am before the kids wake up (shudder), or late at night when they’re asleep? Once you get in a routine, stick to it, and half of the battle is won.
Now you’ve figured out when, you must repeat the solemn vow outlined below
Nothing gets in the way of my writing.
At the risk of sounding a little scary, I’ll adapt it.
Nothing gets in the way of my writing – where practical.
For instance, I recently moved house. I factored this into my schedule. It’s a no brainer that my productivity will go down as I struggle to find my computer in the sea of boxes. I’m talking about the little excuses we make to get out of writing. Maybe I’ll vacuum the house first. Oh, I’ll just ring Aunt Marjory for a quick two hour chat. Don’t blindside yourself. You enjoy writing, remember? And you get the guilts when you don’t do it. Solution; Just do it. Talk to Aunt Marjory another day.
JK ROWLING – “My daughter comes first, Harry second, and then I start weeding out non-priorities.”
Which brings me to goals.
They’re invaluable. I see the success of them every day as a physio. It’s July. Where do you want to be in August? In December? And this time next year. Break it down into short, mid, and long-term goals. I find it useful to have separate marketing, social media and writing goals. For example, I want my third publication, Fantasy of Fire to be on Amazon by mid-January 2016. I know how long the copy editor and content editor, cover designer, and formatter takes, so I work backwards, working out how much time I will have to write the book. This gives me a date for the rough copy of my manuscript to be ready for first round editing. Personally, I don’t break it down further, but you could! How many words do you need to complete each week to get to the goal?
Just make sure your goals are realistic. Nothing like setting yourself up for failure to ruin Christmas.
Now, I do think you can go overboard with the whole organized goal thing. And I used to J
Avoid making to-do lists for each day or each week. Why? Because it takes up time. You’re blindsiding yourself again. If you are going to do it, set aside an hour each month. Get a pen and a calendar and write down big tasks you need to do so you don’t feel overwhelmed and worried important tasks will slip through the cracks. You don’t need to break these down too much. You will just heap the pressure on yourself, and double up on work.
An author friend of mine recently had an issue with social media becoming the focus of her writing time. She’s not alone – it’s a huge problem. From a lot of research into marketing before starting my publishing venture, I can tell you that it’s publishing follow up books that sell you more books! You will, by writing, be more effective in making money then tweeting about the latest read.
In saying that, social medias are a necessary platform in this day and age to help connect with readers. It’s about getting the balance…If we take my typical Friday and Saturday, I might write for six hours (unless I get carried away), and then do social media and marketing for 1-2 hours. This could involve a newsletter, organizing a promotion, Facebooking, or writing a guest blog (like this) – though remember, I try to do a lot of this in the first half of the week, around my full time job.
I have also tried to break from writing with a 20 minute social media time. Worst idea out! 20 minutes always turns into one hour. It also distracts you for when you do return to writing.
So instead, every couple of hours I will get up for a drink, a quick walk around, or something to eat. Easy!
Social media is a writer’s plague. Make sure you control the outbreak!
I think it’s worth talking about how emotions can facilitate procrastination. Doubt, anger, sadness, and stress. I’m sure there are others, even good emotions which can distract. How can you motivate yourself to write when you’re in this kind of mood? For me, writing is guaranteed to alleviate anger, sadness, and stress. That is usually enough of a motivator for me, an escape if you will. If you don’t feel this way then try to focus on how you’ll feel when you accomplish your writing for the day, despite not feeling up to it.
The other strategy I would strongly recommend is resisting the urge to read reviews of your book before you go to sit down and start typing. Good, or bad, they always seem to put me off. I do make sure to read every one of them for feedback, but there’s a time for this. Make it after you’ve done your allotted words for the day!
The techniques listed above won’t work in all instances, but hopefully it will allow you to become more consistent and efficient with working your literary magic. An Author is an occupation like any other. Treat it as a job. Establish a routine and identify where you get distracted. You’ll find you can streamline the process – making it less stressful and more enjoyable - if that’s possible!
Here are some other quick tips you may wish to try:
- When you finish writing, leave the sentence half finished. You can pick up from where you left off when you next sit down!
- Tell others about your goals so you feel committed to achieving them (I tell my beta readers when they can expect to read my next novel).
- Make sure your work space is set up and ready to go for the next day, so you can literally sit down and start.
- Pat yourself on the back when you tick off each goal. Give yourself positive feedback!
A tonne of thanks to Louise White for having me, and I wish you all the best luck with becoming an amateur at procrastination. If this blog helped you, you may also find my blog ‘On Writing Your Debut Book’and other blogs of interest.
Kelly St. Clare
When Kelly St Clare is not reading or writing, she is lost in her latest reverie. She can, quite literally, drift past a car accident while in the midst of her day dreams, despite the various police sirens and chaos.
Books have always been magical and mysterious to her. One day she decided to start unravelling this mystery and began writing. Her aim: To write stories she would want to read. As it turns out, this failed miserably. Do you know what it is like to read something you've written? Impossible, that's what. Not to mention, the ending is ruined before you've begun. Never-the-less, Kelly loves it and wishes she had more time to squeeze it in between her day job as a physiotherapist.
Fantasy of Frost, the first title in The Tainted Accords, is her debut novel. Its sequel, Fantasy of Flight, was released in May 2015, with the second sequel out January 2016.
A New Zealander in origin and in heart, Kelly currently resides in Australia with her soon-to-be husband, a great group of friends, and some huntsman spiders who love to come inside when it rains. Their love is not returned.