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JOAN BARTH ON: PROCRASTINATION

October 5, 2009

Joan BarthHaving good ideas and telling ourselves “That would make a good magazine article, not a book” frequently delays us from writing the idea down. All ideas need to be respected. It is respectful to write them down. I have a folder marked “Possibilities”. All my ideas are stored there.

As for my book, I have a personal deadline for its publication. There is a final deadline but I have a series of deadlines that lead up to the final one. A detailed plan has mini-goals spelled out like Chapter 1: end of September; Chapter 2: end of October; query letters sent to three agents: November 15, etc.

The next step is very important. It is to ask a supportive person to remind you when your deadline is due and to inquire as to your completing what you planned. You must first give them your written plan as well as permission to remind you of your deadlines and successes.

If my manuscript is returned or a query rejected, I have three more ready to go, including an addressed envelope. That way there is no time for being depressed or contemplating what I should do next.

Those of us who procrastinate need to accept our trait and work with it. For me, setting deadlines is an effective way to do that.

Tell me what you do. Writers are flexible – I may add your idea to my resource inventory.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 5, 2009 1:26 AM

    I have deadlines as well, but I’ve recently decided to write every day for a certain amount of time. I’m making sure my parents enforce this rule (I’m a teenager), as though it were as important as feeding the dog dinner–and to me, it nearly is! My goal is to spend the remainder of this school planning and planning and writing character analysis galore (in addition to other things). During summer, 2010, my goal is to write, in the least, five pages of my already planned “novel” (note the quotation marks). Bum glue, as Elizabeth George recommends in “Write Away”. Her book has been invaluable to me, and the helpful posts you guys share are wonderful as well.

  2. Stephen Barth permalink
    October 9, 2009 10:26 PM

    Mom,
    I meant to comment, put somehow kept putting it off.

    There was a story I read the other day about JP Morgan. One day a young man came up to him and said, “I have a secret written down on a piece of paper, it will make you very successful if you follow it every day. It will cost you $25,000.” To that Morgan replied, “Let me see the piece of paper.”

    The young man handed the paper to Morgan who read its contents slowly, then withdrew his checkbook and handed the young man a check for $25,000.

    The note read- “Write a list of what you want to do every day. Then do it.”

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