Top 5 Things I Do When Procrastinating
I am an avid procrastinator. I avoid working on the things that require (no, demand) my immediate attention until the last possible moment. I procrastinate with a purpose. I am the laziest over-achiever you will ever meet. I conserve energy by procrastinating and lingering. My plots have time to marinate and to tumble through the endless maze of mind. I prefer to call my procrastination deep work, which is defined as “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.”
But the world calls me a procrastinator.
Once upon a time, I thought I was alone in my quest to not do the things I needed to do. But I am not. Fast Company scrolled out a list of famous procrastinators:
Bill Clinton, Leonardo da Vinci, Frank Lloyd Wright, Victor Hugo, Margaret Atwood, Douglas Adams, Naomi Campbell, and Mariah Carey are all known for waiting until the last minute to do things. In fact, Fallingwater, Wright’s architectural masterpiece, was reportedly sketched 30 minutes before the client arrived at his office.
Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy, is one. Her famous commencement speech was written on the plane to the event. Oprah is one. (Her Harvard commencement speech was written on the fly. What is it with people and graduation speeches?) And, thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Instagram, I realize that many of my comrades fighting the good fight with their novels, nonfiction journal articles, and poems are dilly-dallying and meandering instead of writing and editing.
In praise of deep work, daydreaming, and procrastination, here are the top five things I do when I’m procrastinating on a writing project.
- Napping. I excel at sleeping. Nap time is a serious endeavor in my regular life but when I need to procrastinate I sleep. The big difference is that I use tactics that Kelly Stone once discussed at a Moonlight and Magnolias conference. I nap with the snarls and tangle of the plot on my mind, and I use a timer to not indulge in too much sleep. The goal is to unlock my inner subconscious, not to drift into REM sleep.
- Checking Instagram and Twitter. I am addicted to social media, especially these two platforms. I use these two for inspiration and connection. When I’m avoiding my writing you will find me there, looking at pretty pictures and getting carried away by plot bunnies.
- Reality television and celebrity gossip reading. The two most important Rs in my life. If I am on deadline and I need an escape, I will watch a episode (or marathon) of Fixer Upper or Real Housewives as well as scroll through Baller Alert and Jezebel.
- Cleaning. It’s my place of last resort when I’m procrastinating, but if I am home and feeling the urge to procrastinate, I have a sudden interest in purifying and cleaning. Vacuuming takes me to my peaceful place. Mindless activities such as washing dishes or vacuuming take my mind off the problem I am facing with my writing but also gives my brain time to process and integrate new ideas.
- Swimming. As a water baby, I find any excuse to get in the pool. Swimming allows me to think deeply about whatever problems I face with my work. I start by thinking about the thing I am procrastinating about. When I reach the other end of the pool, I have a renewed vigor to get my behind in the seat and start writing again.
Apollonia Lord devoured historical romance novels since she was a toddler. (Seriously. She nibbled on the edges of her mother’s paperbacks as a baby. Now she is a bit more conventional in her reading experiences.) Based in Texas, she is a teacher by day and a writer at night.
Where you can find me:
- Twitter: @writelovely / @apollonia_lord
- Newsletter: http://tinyletter.com/apollonia_lord
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Seduced by the Outlaw was inspired by the work of pioneering female journalists in the 19th century. In particular, Ida B. Wells has been a personal inspiration for me as I wrote this. She was a pioneering journalist and anti-lynching crusader. In my opinion, you can’t write a black female journalist in that time period without crafting her in the courageous and bold mold of Wells: http://people.duke.edu/~ldbaker/classes/aaih/caaih/ibwells/ibwbkgrd.html
With all his musing and thinking, Deadwood Dick walked right to the publishing offices. He tested the doorknob, and it yielded under his grasp. The cluttered office was open, but no one was at the front desk. The office was quiet except for the angry hiss of a machine. The printing press, he assumed. “Hello there?” he said, easing through the door. The cock of a gun greeted him, and a familiar sight—a gun muzzle—came into view as he rounded the corner. A small woman with a large gun was one of the things he avoided in life. The other, a pint-sized woman with a large gun.] He raised his hands to show he wasn’t armed, and the first voice to break the quiet was the woman’s voice. “My husband does not take kindly to strangers intruding on his wife,” she said. “I come in peace.” “At this late of night?” She eyed him suspiciously. For an outlaw—or the men out to capture them—half past nine in the evening was hardly late. Things were barely getting warmed up at that time. “I promise. Your door was open.” She stepped out of the dark corner of the office, and he couldn’t think for a moment. She was a pocket Venus with a true hourglass figure, clear skin, and huge dark-fringed eyes, along with a damn impressive steady hand to handle such a big weapon. “Not for you. And you are?”
In 2016, I have another contemporary romance coming out for Christmas. I am working on other historical novels and novellas ranging from a WWII spy romance in Europe to a story about Exodusters to a jewel thief in 1880s London.