Written by Erica Secor March 22nd, 2016

P is for Procrastinate: The ABC’s of Good Procrastination Habits

I am no marathon writer. I sprint, then break by tackling something, anything else – as long as it’s productive. That is what my definition of a good procrastination habit is: a temporary transition from one task to any other of equal or greater importance.

It only took me three decades to let go of the guilt. So, please, take what you need from the following abecedarian sample of my good procrastination habits:

A is for ARRANGING my books by author, genre, color, width, or font. It depends on my mood and changes weekly. My books are a meticulous collection of research, competition, and inspiration. And they are cared for accordingly.

B is for BRAINSTORMING all those other story ideas that just scratch-scratch-scratch at me until they claw their way out of my brain. I used to ignore them, but now, I embrace them. I don’t leave home without my marble-notebook-of-ideas.

C is for CRAFTING, which counterbalances my writing. And inspires it. Last year I built the haunted dollhouse from my current manuscript. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a handmade dollhouse that I built, see, touch, and/or set fire to (for the sake of story, of course) is worth at least 30,000 for my middle grade readers.

D is for DOING DISHES, which is gross. Instead, I organize those mountains. Even if they’re not “getting clean,” the physical act of organization triggers the same in my writer’s brain.

E is for EXERCISING or in my case, escorting the dogs around the block a few times. I am not an athletic person and that is OK. But the fresh air and moderate aerobic walking does wonders to clear my head before revisions.

F is for FREELANCING and is used by 100% of writers currently typing this sentence as a way to keep all writing-pistons firing without looking at my manuscript.

G is for GAMING that triggers my inner creative problem-solving genius. Plus, board game night at our place forces me to be social which is good.

H is for HAGGLING at flea markets, which isn’t really my thing, but I get a kick out of watching others do it. I might even buy something my characters would like.

I is for IGNORING my manuscript. Life happens and I know my limits. Nothing dampens my creativity faster than forcing myself to sit down and type when it really isn’t a good time.

J is for JOURNALING because no one ever has to read it and I get to vent about the stressors I’m otherwise ignoring.

K is for KNEADING my homemade bread dough. Not only does this warm up my hands before a long morning’s writing sprint, but also: my bread is delicious. And the recipe calls for lots of waiting during which I tackle some chores or chapters.

L is for LAUNDRY. As soon as I put a load of laundry in, I think: “Well, I have to be back in 39 minutes. That’s a manageable writing chunk.”

M is for M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN-A-THONS to inspire my creative juices. I love scary movies. If I am going to binge-watch something, it will be what I love.

N is for NAPPING, but this is rare for me. I don’t think I will ever shake that childhood fear of missing out on something important if I sleep during the day.

O is for ORGANIZING my desk. Or my sock drawer. Or the refrigerator. Whatever it is, organizing a physical space gets me thinking about untangling that one plot thread I forgot from Chapter 3.

P is for PROCRASTINATING by writing articles for Authors Publish Magazine about procrastinating.

Q is for QUITTING. Yes, quitting which is my brain’s version of a spa day. When I get frustrated with my story, I quit it. I save and close the document. I power off the laptop. Put the laptop out of sight. This way, I’m less likely to write garbage, which is what comes out on the page when I am frustrated.

R is for READING in my genre as research. For me, it’s R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps or P.J. Night’s You’re Invited to a Creepover series. Reading these inspires me and informs me of my competition.

S is for SHOPPING because it gets me out to where the people-things are.

T is for TWEETING about my writing because Twitter is the water-cooler for easily distracted writers. And introverts. I happen to be both. My Twitter community is rife with writers, agents, editors, publishers, and very likely, some of my future readers. Whether they know it or not, they hold me accountable for producing quality, not quantity.

U is for UPDATING my blog about the status of my manuscript which tricks my brain into thinking I am working my manuscript. And because I bleed guilt, I usually end up working on my manuscript anyway.

V is for VENTING about my manuscript to my writing partners and beta readers. They, in turn, debunk my doubts and give me ideas for how to proceed.

W is for WHY am I still tweaking this article? I really should be revising my manuscript.

X is for XEROXING or whatever else I need to do to make sure I have multiple copies saved of my manuscript.

Y is for YOU should be working on your writing, too.

Z is for ZEROING in on how and why procrastinating is good for me, thus justifying my choice to ignore self-inflicted guilt-trips such as W and Y, above.

So, here’s to guilt-free procrastination! And now it’s back to revisions. Just after I proofread this article. For the billionth time.

Erica Secor lives near some trees with her husband and two human-like dogs. When she’s not scoring college English papers, she writes (and was a) middle grade horror.


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