Procrastination

How is a procrastinator to deal with the pressures of life, much less the myriad things a writer must do these days? What makes someone procrastinate?

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We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

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When it comes to procrastination, I emphasize the first syllable. I’ve become a true pro at it.

I have friends who have full-time jobs and kids to raise, and all the laundry and housecleaning and meal preparation that go along with having a family, who still find time to write books and blogs, edit their work, get it published, promote it on this site and that, and all the other hundreds of things that go along with being an author. Perhaps you’re one of them.

Just thinking about all that activity gets me out of breath. It must be wonderful to have the energy, the drive, and the focus to be able to do all those things. Not to mention a sharp, young mind that can grasp all the ins and outs and nuances of dealing with Amazon and CreateSpace and Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords with all their rules and requirements—many of which are opposite at one site from another.

Several things which younger people wouldn’t understand conspire to minimize my sleep a lot of nights, setting me up to need naps during the day. Other biological twists lead me to spend an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom every day. This is all time I should spend working on my craft. Alas, I don’t get to.

When I do get going, the first time I hit a snag—like some requirement from Smashwords I don’t understand—I have a tendency to put the project in question on a back burner and do something else. Seems like every candle on the birthday cake brings with it a slight increase in the confusion level.

My friend Jillian Dodd can flit all over the country attending book signing events, publish books for several other authors, advertize and promote all of them, and keep it all straight in her mind at all times. Did I mention she also writes books?

Nigel Blackwell, another friend, works long hours, comes home to spend his evenings with his wife and daughter, and then sits down around midnight to write for a couple of hours. Then he gets back up the next morning and does the same thing all over again.

Another friend, Karlene Petitt, flies huge airplanes all over the world, frequently being gone from home for days at a time. When she does get home, you know she’s got all sorts of homemaking things to do. But she finds time to write books and post frequent blogs.

You may do as much yourself. If so, I envy you, as I envy them, for the clarity of mind, the intensity of focus, the drive to overcome all obstacles, and the energy to get it all done. Would that I had that.

The writing part seems to be the easiest. I’ve finished and published seven books in the past year, although six of them are novellas. But when I try to do things to make them sell, I seem to get bogged down and go nowhere.

Right now, I’m trying to get all my published books onto Smashwords, and from there onto Kobo and iTunes, but I keep running into Smashwords’ requirements which I have failed to meet. When I click to see what the requirements are and how to meet them, I might as well be reading Greek or Martian. So I go take a nap. Or get on Facebook, or work a crossword puzzle.

At times I wonder if I’ll ever be a pro author. Maybe I’m destined always to be a pro crastinator.

What things pop up to make you procrastinate? How do you overcome them?

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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21 Responses to Procrastination

  1. Hello David, You’ve hit on a hot topic for many of us. I can definitely relate on many levels. All the years I worked for the government, I didn’t think a thing about working 80 hours or more and still hosting a sit-down dinner party for 50 or so. I popped out of bed at 3:00 a.m. every morning without giving it a second thought and my day started and it was full force ahead without stopping. I didn’t really want to retire but thankfully I held a position that allowed retirement at 20 years. I needed to be available full time to take care of Tom and that’s another story for another day. When I retired, I was still on-call all the time, just in a different way. Actually it was more frustrating in many ways. Once I started writing, I’ve had many false starts and I’ve started and stopped and changed course many times. I’ll be the first to admit, the novel often takes 2nd seat when I’m reading or just plain worn out from being a full-time caregiver. And yes – there’s that issue of being older. If I wanted to give up my volunteer work and my advocay and time on Capitol Hill working to pass legislation regarding gun restriction laws, care for veterans, keeping military families together and not destroying family farms . . . I ask myself, would I write more then? I honestly don’t know. I do hear you when it comes to not learning new technology as fast as the younger set. It’s frustrating beond compare.

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  2. David, this is a very timely post for me. I just finished watching LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE. ANd grandfather always says : “The only losers in life are the people who are so afraid of doing anything that they never try anything.” You have done so much and so fearlessly. I’m proud of you for getting your books out there and for continuing to publish. I think I’m still in the “scaredy-pants” mode. I don’t consider myself a procrastinator, but I am when it comes to my writing. Absolutely. Yes. I can always find something else that needs to be done.

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    • Renee, think of all of us who read your blog posts regularly. Think how much we’d love to read anything you published. You don’t need to be scaredy-pants. I guarantee you’ll sell more books once you publish than you ever will but dodging publication. And with all the people who follow your blogs, you’d probably soar ahead of a lot of us in sales. GET IT OUT THERE! Seriously.

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  4. Julie Glover says:

    My best friend in college used to say, “I have so much to do, I want to take a nap.” It’s true, isn’t it? When I feel overwhelmed, I just want to check out for a while and not deal with my ever-growing to-do list. Of course, I know that I just get behind that way, but the temptation is still there.

    I will say a few years ago I decided to give up on comparing how much I can get done with what others can get done. For instance, I simply cannot exist on five hours a sleep a night, and I know people who can. More power to them, but I can’t compare my apples with their oranges. I just have to do what I can do. So every day, I make sure I can log some progress of some kind. Little by little I move toward where I want to be.

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    • Actually, Julie, that’s more or less what I do, but I happen to be part of a writers’ group of achievers. When I think about them, my excuse is that they’re all at least a generation younger than I am. They don’t need to know whether or not I could do all that they do when I was their age.

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  5. I call myself a recovering Procrastinator. I struggle against it. Sometimes, the urge to procrastinate works in my favor if I delve into research or housework. Either way, something gets done.

    I’ve learned that procrastination is usually a symptom of some other issue for me. I try to figure it out (often it’s fear…of success…failure…etc). If I can’t figure it out, I try to outwit it by only letting myself do other things on my todo list. Eventually, I end up doing the original as a way of procrastinating on something else. LOL.

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  6. Karlene says:

    David, you are so far ahead of me… I don’t know what Smashwords is! But I do multi-task and my work joins me in the bathroom, bathtub, gym, airport… you name it, I’m carving minutes.

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  7. Barb Estinson says:

    Oh, how I relate to the procrastination stuff. Though I’m not in your league of writing and marketing and trying to navigate confusing mazes in the business, I can procrastinate in my own sphere very well. I agree with the other supportive remarks you have here, David. You have accomplished very much in your writing career. I respect your talent, your drive, and your persistence in doing so. And I so understand the need for naps and the darn tricks that our aging bodies are playing on us. Who ever said that aging was easy? We’ll somehow do what we need to, though. Love you.

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  8. Sharon K. Walker says:

    Don’t feel too bad about the procrastination. I think most people procrastinate, especially when facing something that is challenging or unpleasant. Increasing age doesn’t help either, although I prefer it to the alternative. Just keep on plugging away as you do have talent and a tale to spin.

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  9. Charity Kountz says:

    David, my dear friend you are much too hard on yourself. You are not procrastinating, you are working to learn and develop new skills, in fact a second career, at an age when most people are content to do very little or focused on leisure activities. You have essentially started a new career in the last year and as with any endeavor, it takes time to benefit from the efforts of your toil. Promotion is only one part of the process and every writers path is different. In addition, it’s unfair for you to compare yourself or your efforts and results to anyone else. You are unique, beyond compare and God has created this journey for you, only He will ever fully understand why.

    I believe there are several parables about this type of thing in the bible (just don’t ask me which passages because I could not do so) that may help guide you and give you peace and inspiration. Seek His wisdom and I have no doubt it will be of comfort to you.

    Furthermore, your life experience gives you an ease with the writing process others may lack (like myself). The highly productive people you mention likely are expert time managers and delegators, finding others with skills to help them achieve more.

    For example, right now while my husband is out of work, I am delegating more tasks for him to help with the house, child care, medical issues as well as my own emotional support. All while he searches for a job. His help has been invaluable these last six weeks and as a result I am writing and publishing more than ever despite personal issues. Jillian’s kids are mostly grown and out of the house, while I believe her husband works full-time. This gives the resources in terms of finances, time and an inexpensive workforce to call upon if needed that you likely lack. It is likely these individuals regularly create a written plan to achieve their goals as well as defining the steps for success. This may help you to spend a little time planning if you don’t already do so.

    For those reasons and many more, I say walk your own path without looking at the success of others in comparison to your own. You are an invaluable mentor, Christian, writer, husband, and father and give selflessly to anyone you can help. You have nothing whatsoever to be discouraged about.

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  10. Emma says:

    Hi David. Wouldn’t it be great if finishing the book and writing The End was the final act? About Smashwords, if you’re having trouble, look into getting someone to format the book for your. There are many indie authors services who will do it for a small fee, usually under $50.

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    • Thanks, Emma, but it’s not the formatting. The roadblock I’ve got right now is that they want a specific copyright statement added, but I can’t find a way to add it to the ones I’ve already published with them.

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      • Emma says:

        Oh. Hmm, as far as I can remember with Smashwords, you got to Settings on your dashboard and upload your updated word doc.

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