Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

A pitifully short update

October 27, 2012

My procrastination skills—always formidable—have experienced a recent surge in power. Thus, it has been an entire month since I’ve chronicled progress on Kiss and Tell for you. Which is crazy, because I actually have a boatload of stuff to report.

I have a very minor amount of revision work left (maybe a few hours), and then the finished manuscript is ready to go out to a couple of beta readers, a term I just learned from my copy editor’s website. Beta readers provide a preview for an author of what the public might say about the book, pointing out things that are confusing, repetitive or even missing. Since the book is about 450 pages, agreeing to be a beta reader is no small task.

Fortunately, as I say to anyone who’ll listen, I have the best and most supportive friends anyone could hope to accumulate, and two of them have agreed to the “beta” task. One is an editor and the other a writer (though both can do both), so I’ll be fortunate indeed to see the book from their perspectives.

While they are reading, I’ll turn my attention to creating type for the book’s cover, which includes soliciting cover blurbs from authors I’ve met over the years. Dr. Whelihan and I met last week to discuss hiring a book designer and together we interviewed two candidates on the phone. I’ve since had additional calls with several online organizations who specialize in helping self-published authors bring their books to market. It’s a complicated field: not rocket science or anything, but there are multiple paths you can choose and we want to explore all the options before jumping in.

Although December is a huge month for selling books, it would be a rush for us to pull everything together in time to make a holiday release feasible. And let’s face it, sexual desire is understandably not at the forefront of women’s minds when they’re trying to buy and wrap gifts, arrange holiday dinners and parties, send cards and trim trees. Enough already! As we learned during interviews, sex can feel like one more thing on a to-do list if a woman is feeling overwhelmed by the requirements of daily life.

So right now we’re aiming for a lead-up of Kiss and Tell marketing to dovetail with Valentine’s Day. We’ll get advice from more experts along the way on how to make sure the campaign effectively builds momentum, and though I’m sure we’ll hit some bumps along the way, I’m hopeful we can generate some strategically-timed media excitement to help things along.

Fortunately, I have friends who have been down this road and are willing to lend their advice and expertise. Though the process seems a bit scary to me, they give me confidence that it can be done! Books do get published. It’s not impossible. Even for little old me!

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got just a few more revisions to make.


Procrastination prevails

December 11, 2010

It’s hard for me to blog when I don’t feel proud of myself. My vanity compels me to wait until I’m on an upswing of energy and confidence, at which time I enjoy enthusiastically posting my achievements and plans.

Not so today. I’ve had an icky, unproductive two weeks with very little book progress to report. Instead I have been doing everything but: cleaning the condo, trying to get a new screen door, buying and wrapping and mailing Christmas presents, catching up with friends I haven’t talked to in a while, addressing Christmas cards, working out, meeting with my financial adviser, celebrating Hanukkah with friends, reading, doing the crossword, you name it.

Ugh. I’m so annoyed with myself. Everyday I say it’s going to be different and every day I get up and find a million things to do that are NOT writing. At least I did a long-awaited interview with an intriguing 82-year-old woman at my condo for four hours last weekend — she’d been waiting a long time for someone to ask about her sexual history and it took perhaps more time than it needed to for her to share. But check that off.

And I had a productive one-on-one session with my computer teacher to make heads and tails of the survey statistics which are now in the computer. Plus, I have another session scheduled in two days. So check that off as well.

But the writing — ugh. I’ve been working on one chapter forever, alternately making progress and bogging down. After thrashing it out with a writer friend two nights ago, I decided to give it up for now and move on. I need certain interviews to be able to complete it, and I’m just not getting them, so I’m going to let it go and move on to chapters dedicated to each decade in women’s lives. I’m going to trust that in the interviews for those segments, the women I need to complete the troublesome chapter will surface.

Tomorrow I have a session with my book-writing partner, and that will help too. She is hugely inspiring and always makes me feel competent — which I could use a dose of right about now. It would be such a boost to have a week of enervating productivity before I head to Texas for the Christmas vacation.

Because guess what? It’s highly unlikely I’ll get anything done on the book during the two weeks I’m out of town. It’s nice to tell myself I’ll find some quiet pockets of time to write and be creative, but come on. How likely is that? If I discover a solitary hour when I’m in Austin with all my family and pals and distractions, I’m way more likely to log on to Facebook than devote myself to the difficult task of writing.

OK., I’ve done it. Posted a blog about my weakness of character and pathetic procrastination. Turns out it feels every bit as demoralizing as I expected. Perhaps I will be galvanized to write just to avoid such humiliating posts in the future.

The good news I can share is that my migraines are still in retreat — which is HUGE as anyone who knows me can attest. I’ve had one bad spell, around Thanksgiving, with two headaches in five days. Since I’ve been headache free ever since, I’m wondering if perhaps that episode was the result of an inflamed ulcer that pretty much took over my mouth for a week after new bands were added to my braces the Monday before Thanksgiving. The wires on one of the bands were so sharp they tore up my cheek in moments, so of course I used wax to cover the offending band. But when I removed the wax to eat meals, my mouth would get dug up again. After three days, I just began leaving the wax in while I ate. Only twice did I end up swallowing it; a small price to pay because the ulcer finally healed.

Have I mentioned that braces are a giant pain? I feel the need to point that out, because if I’ve only said it a thousand times, it’s NOT ENOUGH.

The saving grace? The movement of my top front teeth means they no longer are shoving my jaw back. And that’s a good thing for migraine control. But have you noticed? It’s all this bizarre circle where the reason for the braces is to banish migraines and maybe they do but they also cause mouth trauma which in turn can cause migraines which negates the effect in the first place!

It takes someone smarter than me to figure out the sum of all the totals.

Meanwhile, I’ll be here. Slogging through this unproductive period and anticipating an upswing. When it arrives, I’ll share my achievements via blog and release you from the task of a) feeling sorry for me or b) wondering why I don’t quit whining and get my ass in gear.

Me, I’m in the ‘b’ camp.

Deadlines: Who needs them?

May 24, 2010

Since my working life was spent as a journalist, I have no experience living a deadline-free existence.

Always, when I was awake, I carried a detailed, internal list of which story was due when, what needed to be done to complete each story and in what sequence they needed to be completed. Attached to this psychic list was the requisite guilt, which—while painful—was a good thing, in that it enabled me to actually finish stories (frequently on time) for publication in the newspaper.

I mention this to illustrate my complete and ongoing delight at NOT having said list lurking in my psyche any longer. It’s a revelation and a constant source of joy.

However, I DO have guilt about not working more hours daily on my book, but I’m learning that without deadlines, it’s hard to develop the knack for when to finish what. And a book is so unformed compared to a newspaper article. Giant swaths of research time are required; statistics have to be corralled; outlines must be created; agents wooed; publishers contacted. It’s a far cry from interviewing sources and sharing their stories.

Still, I love what I’m doing. The research has turned me into a semi-expert, the interviews are engaging and I’m getting a good feel for the shape of one of the first chapters I’ve dug into. However, I still need to create a more detailed outline for the book, and now that I’ve seriously studied the 1100 surveys we’ve collected so far, I think that’s feasible. But WHEN will I do that? And how will I hold myself to getting it done? That’s what I struggle with.

It’s not like I can’t set deadlines for myself. I can. But I’d know they were fake deadlines and I’d know I could push them. After a lifetime, I can tell the difference.

And it’s not like I’m undisciplined in general. Dishes never sit in the sink overnight, bills don’t go unpaid, friends’ birthdays are acknowledged. I’m able to harness my productive energy for small stuff pretty consistently. It’s the big tasks that I tend to put off, in favor of those more manageable ones.

Also to consider: I’m much better about keeping a commitment to another than one to myself. This is why having a trainer works so well for me. Without an appointment, I can find 17 good reasons why today isn’t a good day to go to the gym, and 11 reasons why exercising tomorrow actually makes more sense. And, naturally, I can do the same thing the next day. That inked commitment on my calendar to trainer Chris is another matter entirely. I work around it, guard it, keep it. Result: I’ve been at my optimum weight for almost 4 years now. Not a bad result at all.

So. How to transfer that knowledge about myself to the book project?

I’ve been giving this some thought. I have no shortage of smart, editor-type friends I could ask to play the role of deadline-enforcer for me. I could create a calendar of “due dates” for chapters and commit to having it done for “my editor” by those times. And it may come to that. But with my work history, I find it’s such a relief to not have looming deadlines that I am unwilling to take that step.

Instead, I’ve earmarked the next two weeks as a time to dig in and see what I can get done outline-wise without an external boss. I’m dog sitting for some friends in my former neighborhood, which means I’ll be spending lots of hours in a comfortable setting with an elderly dog—an ideal environment for concentration, methinks. I visited their house yesterday for orientation and found a spot in their nice den to hook up my computer. I’m thinking it’s going to be a friendly little work retreat. Bonus: Comforting presence of sweet pup in the same room!

So. That’s my deadline solution—for the moment. We’ll see if it works. And I’ll try to be accountable to you blog readers at least, and let you know how it’s going a week from now.

So check back! And please send good thoughts.

Thank you, thank you.

Job = life?

January 24, 2010

File this under realizations that don’t come to you when you have a job.

Quite simply — a job, especially one you like, creates your life for you; without one, you are faced with the opportunity and challenge of creating your own life.

Some people learn this sooner than others; I’m new to the party. Fortunately, I’m old enough and have enough passions, interests and ambitions to start crafting a structured life, but even so, I sometimes feel I’m working with a blank slate. I come from a workplace littered with distractions, deadlines, drama and delight. Now I’m facing the essentially solitary task of writing a book. There is no built-in start time each morning, no “first interview” of the day, no weekly deadlines — just one long project to write and a boatload of life chores that threatens to capsize my sanity some days. (I’m only 8 weeks post retirement and wondering where I previously found the time for all the busy work that sucks up my attention day after day.)

I’ve also discovered that once you say no to full-time work, you can actually say yes to just about everything else. For example, I now have the capability of traveling to China to teach English as a second language, training to be a vet tech, moving to Australia to become a jillaroo or doing manual labor at a garden shop. I could work at a gym, move back to Texas, hire onto a boat bound for anywhere, become a carpenter’s apprentice, beg my former employers to take me back or bum off various family members. See what I mean? When one door closes, every window in the place is suddenly open wide. I now have to choose exactly what I want to do because the job is no longer eliminating every other possibility.

Which is why I find myself creating a brand-new life — right here, right now — and it’s as exciting, daunting and fascinating as you’d expect. And despite all the tempting roads I travel in my mind’s eye, leading to various scenarios and lives I could lead, for now, the path I’ll travel is the one I chose before I even left my career. One that hopefully leads to me being a published author.

So — for the foreseeable future — find me (still) at my desk!

Finding space to write

December 11, 2009

So I’m talking to my therapist today — and yes, I’m fully aware of how pretentious that sounds, but honestly, she’s the sanity I cling to lately to help me navigate the churning sea of change that is my life. So bear with me a moment before you deafen me with the sound of your rolling eyes.

I’m explaining to her how although I AM making progress on my “to do” list, I’m fairly  frantic about how long the list is and how slowly I’m moving through it. “I need to be working on the book every day but I’m just up to here,” I say, demonstrating by holding my open hand up to my forehead, palm down.

Ever calm, she holds her two fingers about an inch apart and sweeps them across her forehead remarking, “It’s hard to write from this space.”

And immediately I get it. I not going to be able to write from a tight, frantic, bundled state of mind. I need an expansive, creative, open mind (an invaluable prerequisite for any new undertaking come to think of it). And reaching that state means I have preparation work to do; contacts to make, a new apartment to find, an entire move to execute probably within the next month or so, computer and printer to hook up, boxes to unpack, beds (both literal and figurative) to make. In addition, I have to create a permanent work space, hopefully with everything I’ll need close at hand.

And that’s all OK. I have 9 months to get the bulk of my book written and though I originally assumed that meant I needed to work a certain amount of hours each day, I recently realized I don’t actually know the process that’s going to lead to me writing this book. I might spend an entire week writing 12 hours a day; I might spend a month and never leave the house and write furiously. I might write for 2 days and not write for a week. I might do this a milion ways. The point is: That process is yet to be determined. Which is also just fine.

What I know for sure — to borrow an Oprah expression — is that there is no part of me that doesn’t want to write this book. I am 100% engaged by the idea and subject matter. Every time I talk about it I get excited all over again and feel lucky to have such a project.

In fact, my therapist noted that part of this transition from journalist to writer is internal, but another part is the mirroring process — where we show the world our ‘new’ self and then gauge its reaction, adjusting our own image as we go. The conversations I’m having with people who are accepting me as a writer, validating the idea, commenting on the process and even soliciting my advice for THEIR books (that’s already happened!) these are the things that help create in me the expansive mindspace that will make it possible to write the book.

So I’m not panicky anymore. I don’t feel “up to here,” though I’m still wading through my to-do list. I’m trying to accept that this is the process. I can’t do Step 8 before Steps 1 and 2. There’s a time element here I need to respect.

And that’s hard.

But I’m learning.

So this is retirement

November 23, 2009

I’m halfway through my first workday as a retiree and so far, it looks alot like vacation. The weekend was filled with packing and parties and feelings of turning over a new leaf. But today, with the rest of world at work and me out running errands and checking things off my list — well, it feels pretty vacation-y.

On Sunday afternoon, when I realized I still had a huge bag of books in the car that I’d hoped to deliver to the used book store, I groaned, thinking I’d have to carry it around another whole week, waiting for time NEXT weekend. But then, my newly-acquired retiree’s brain kicked in with the reminder that I could do that MONDAY — because, you know, NO WORK!

So clearly, this is all going to take some getting used to. I spent the morning doing errands, with strict instructions from my retired self to spend the afternoon at the beach, because, honestly, if I’m not going to get to the beach more often as a retired person than a working person then there’s really no reason to go on living.

But the clouds piled up while I visited the bank, the book store, the mall and the grocery store, so I’ve slid beachtime to tomorrow’s to-do list — marveling that I have a tomorrow available for this sort of thing. To know that I can sit by the ocean — and read or not, sleep or not — and not have it be a day of my vacation, is hard for me to accept. During my 7 years in Florida, I’ve occasionally stolen a day or afternoon to sneak away to the beach nearby, but my enjoyment is severely hampered by the knowledge that I’m only stealing time from myself, that once I return to the office, I’ll have twice as much work to do to make up for my truancy.

That’s just not true anymore. Now I’m off the clock, for good. And it’ll take my brain longer than a couple of days to get used to it, no doubt.

Meanwhile, I’ve granted myself 2 weeks of rest and reflection — before I dive into writing my book. A part of my brain that refuses to be silenced assures me this is shameless procrastintion, but several people I trust have assured me it’s appropriate to take a bit of time to pat myself on the back for a job well done, allow the brain to go fallow for a short while — and THEN start the next great adventure.

So that’s my plan — and part of why I want to get to the beach. Is there a better spot for absorbing the past, feeling the absolute joy of the moment you’re in and also dreaming of the future? I think not.