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Today, I'm delighted to welcome my friend from the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group, Donna Brennan. Donna's considering starting her own blog soon. Once you've read the excellent guest post she's written for us today, I'm sure you'll join me in hoping she gets one started ASAP.

Are you put off by procrastination? by Donna Brennan
What's the difference between a published writer and a wanna-be writer? Talent could have a lot to do with it. Opportunity, contacts, even luck.

But all too often the biggest difference is that the published writer actually wrote something. The wanna-be didn't.
The wanna-be writer might have great ideas, great talent, but lousy discipline. If you don't put your bottom in the seat and your hands on the keyboard and actually write something, you'll have nothing to publish.
Is writing your dream? Are you living your dream? Or dreaming your life? What's keeping you from writing?
The second thing many wanna-be writers don't do is submit their work. This involves some research to find the right market. It may seem complicated or intimidating, but it's not so bad once you start.
I know there are a lot of talented writers who do spend time writing but they haven't been published. Yet. If you keep writing and keep putting your work out there, you are miles closer to getting published than someone who hasn't tried to market their work or who doesn't spend the time to complete that article or book.
So, are you writing? Are you researching who might be interested in publishing your work? What have you done so far to get published? It will help tremendously if you join a writers group or attend writers conferences. A good critique group will help motivate you to write on a regular basis. Have you done any of that? Or are you putting it off?
“I want to write, but I have to clean my kitchen.” “I told my friend I'd go bowling with her.” “There's this show on TV...”
Yes, it's important to have a life. But it's also important to prioritize. Do you need to go out with your friend every week? Are there any TV shows you can cut out of your schedule? When you sit down to write, do you check your email first? Just play “one” quick game of Spider Solitaire?
If you want to be a serious writer, you need to get serious about writing.
I had a friend in college who would wait until two days before a term paper was due before he'd start writing it. He usually got 'B's. He'd say to me, “I only spent two days on this and I did as well or better than lots of kids who spent weeks on it. If I had spent as much time as them, I would have gotten an 'A'.” He sounded proud of that fact, but I knew he was really insecure. He was afraid that if he spent weeks on the paper and didn't get an 'A', it meant he wasn't smart. But he must be a genius to get a 'B' with just two days effort.
His insecurity made him procrastinate. And kept him from getting 'A's.
What's making you procrastinate? Is it fear of finding out you're not as good as you think? Is it poor discipline? Are you easily distracted? You need to first identify the problem, then deal with it. 

If you're afraid you might not be good enough to get published, that's all the more reason you should write. You need the practice. You also need to grow in the craft. Take a writing course (either online or at a local college), join a critique group, or buy a few good books on writing. And, just as important, read the kinds of books you want to write. All while still finding time to write.
If you have poor discipline, you need to set some rules. Perhaps only check your emails three times a day (morning, noon, and night). Perhaps limit Facebook time to one hour a day—say, from 9:00 until 10:00. If you're doing something else during that hour, you don't go on Facebook that day. Set your schedule and then stick to it.
If you are easily distracted, find ways to get rid of the distractions. Get the cleaning done quickly so you don't keep thinking about it when you should be writing. Or get someone else to do it. Put a sign on your door telling your family you are not to be disturbed between the hours of 4:00 and 7:00—whatever works for you. I renamed the games on my PC. Minesweeper is now called Timewaster 1. Spider Solitaire is Timewaster 2. Those names make me think twice before I click on those games. 
How about you? Can you identify what keeps you from writing? And what can you do about it? 
Donna Brennan lives in Pennsylvania, where she finally stopped procrastinating and recently started submitting articles to magazines and newspapers. She also working on her second novel and plans to start her own blog soon.


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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
Great post, Donna! This is definitely a message I needed to hear today. Being distracted by the internet is the #1 reason why I haven't been getting more writing done.
Feb. 24th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Part of the reason I wrote this is to remind myself to stay focused on my writing. The internet is a big distraction to me, too. Especially Facebook--that's why I hardly ever go on Facebook anymore, it sucks up too much of my time.
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC)
I need an icon that says "the internetz is sucking my brain."
Feb. 22nd, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
What keeps me from writing is reading about the business of writing.
Feb. 24th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
LOL. I know what you mean, Paul. While a certain amount of that is important, it's east to get carried away.
Feb. 22nd, 2011 11:05 pm (UTC)
Great post! Thanks for sharing :)

These days the only thing that keeps me from writing is the day job... I have puppy time and horse time scheduled in :) I actually don't watch much tv or do much of anything else except write. Maybe that's why I'm getting published ^.^

Good luck!
Feb. 24th, 2011 02:13 pm (UTC)
Good for you, Firewolf. Maybe someday you'll make enough at your writing so you can quit the day job.
Feb. 24th, 2011 04:21 pm (UTC)
That's the goal! Thanks so much.

Feb. 23rd, 2011 12:23 am (UTC)
Good post!

Yes, you do need to have a 'normal' life, but if you're going to be a writer, you need to write too. It's a hard balance to find, but it must be found or nothing gets done.
Feb. 24th, 2011 02:15 pm (UTC)
That's true. Also, if you don't have a life outside your writing, you'll run out of things to write about. Life, especially a full and busy life, is great fodder for writing.
Feb. 25th, 2011 03:08 pm (UTC)
Totally awesome! And I am guilty as charged on all three counts.
Feb. 26th, 2011 11:50 am (UTC)
It's easy to say "Oh, if you just want to, you can write." or, "If it's important enough, you'll make time."

But there are only so many hours in the day, and I have a family and a job that drains me physically, mentally and emotionally, and I am not one of those people who can stay up all night and write. I have learned the hard way that if I am not paying careful attention to the rest of my life, Bad Things Happen.

I would dearly love to chuck it all and just write. But you know what? It isn't going to happen.

We all have to be realistic about what we can accomplish. Nothing ticks me off more than hearing someone say "Well, just get up an hour earlier each morning," when I am already on exhausted and overwhelmed.

So, don't procrastinate, for sure. But don't feel guilty for making an honest assessment of how much time you can give to your writing, either.

We all go through seasons in our lives. Things
Author Christine Hardy
Feb. 26th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC)
That was me being "Anonymous." I'm having trouble figuring out how to use Live Journal, as I'm accustomed to Blogger, which is much easier, in my opinion.

I want to apologize for ranting. I have had a difficult week, and am under a self-imposed deadline that I fear I won't be able to meet. I know you were talking about true procrastination, not competing obligations, but sometimes the two seem to blend.

Why do I procrastinate? Mainly because writing is hard. It requires the same kind of serious, focused concentration that my day job does, but it doesn't pay me anything. So when I do have some time to write, usually early morning or late evening, I find that I am just absolutely brain dead. I just can't concentrate because I'm so overwhelmed and exhausted from everything else.

So I end up perusing blogs and making a nuisance of myself instead. Sorry!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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