Procrastination Station

Procrastination Station: Image courtesy of Peter Jaison -

NaNoWriMo peppers my message box with emails entitled “Procrastination Station”.  I’ve found, during this month of frenzied novel writing, accompanied by nail biting, hair pulling, and nightly sleep interrupted by blinding moments of subconscious suggestion for the next stage of the book, that I don’t need those emails to procrastinate.  I do that fine all on my own, thank you very much.

Somehow, I am making progress, but it practically takes an act of God before I can sit down, focus, and start typing.

A typical day goes something like this:

* Fire up the computer.
* Insert the flash drive into the USB slot.
* Double check that the version of the novel on the flashy thingie is the same version saved on the hard drive because my OCD requires me to confirm that evil novel destroying gnomes have not infiltrated my computer over night and run off with my story.
* Open the file.
* Check email.
* Surf Facebook.
* Scroll to the last page and read the last line of the story.
* Eat something.
* Drink a cup of coffee.
* Go have a cigarette (no comments, please.  I’m down to 7 a day.  Considering I’m trying to write a novel in a month, I think it’s real progress that I haven’t relapsed and gone back to a pack a day).
* Look at the story on my computer screen again.
* Make a phone call.
* Repeat as appropriate.

At some point, I decide enough is enough.  Telling myself this story isn’t going to write itself, I mentally crack my knuckles and set my fingers on the keyboard.  I type a few paragraphs, maybe some dialogue, then wonder at the strangely organic direction my novel is taking that day.

I took this on as a personal challenge.  If I was ever going to find a novel inside me, being forced to create one in just 30 days seemed like the best way to begin that search because I’m a huge fan of deadlines.  A deadline means I have to do it, regardless of what “it” is.  It’s that OCD again…God forbid I come up late.

This novel writing stuff is hard work yet strangely satisfying at the same time.  Once I get going, I find I can keep rolling until I hit my personal word quota of 2,500 words a day.  I throw in a few breaks to stretch the fingers and the neck but I keep at it until the little word count ticker reaches the number I set down for the day.  Then I do a little happy dance that I’m that much closer to the finish and I tell myself, “Self, tomorrow will be different.  You’ll jump right in first thing.  Once you sit down, there’s no getting up except for potty breaks.”

Self always replies, “Whatever.”  Did I mention that Self is a stubborn soul?

I keep thinking that the progress I’m making is inspiration enough to get hopping right out of the gate each day.  Apparently, I’m wrong.  Turns out inspiration is a “one day at a time” thing; sometimes “one moment at a time.”

So the odds are pretty good that tomorrow you will find me surfing Facebook and checking email, killing time in Procrastination Station.

© Hilary Clark and “Pining for Poetry & Prose: Pursuing My Passion”, 2010