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Hey you…get back to work!

Being as this is a post about procrastination (and getting over it), perhaps I should just get straight to the point…

Star’s rules for kicking procrastination’s butt:

Declutter

If I’m really in the mood to procrastinate I will use anything as an excuse.  A piece of paper out of place on the desk?  Must put it away!  An extra pen just sitting there, staring at me?  Drawer for you little pen!  In order to illustrate my point (so you know I am not BSing) above is a picture of my desk.  See how clean and smooth?  Now that’s a desk that gets things done.

Or just go out

If your desk is too covered in crap to even be bothered with, the next option is to just go out.  Sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need to give you the boost to go ahead and do whatever pressing thing you’re avoiding.

Listen to music

Seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?  Well it’s not.  Music can be an inspiration and can motivate you to get moving.  Think of it as an audio reward for the awesome job you are about to do.

Exercise

I know I say this a lot, but there’s nothing better for you than exercise (except maybe air and certain foods).  Pump yourself up for the job ahead with a good speedy walk or run or Tae Bo session.

Set a time or work limit

Organize your work into small chunks or set a timer.  At each interval reward yourself with a stroll around the room, a fresh glass of water or some fresh air (avoid rewarding yourself with chocolate or candy, you’ll thank me later).  Knowing you have a limit makes things easier to handle and breaking them into small pieces makes it easier to digest.

Be accountable

We’re lucky, we have clients and we’re accountable to them so if the work doesn’t get done and fast we loose clients and starve.  The same can’t be said for my writing.  Currently I’m not accountable to anyone so everything is pretty loosey goosey.  So what I always try to do is make myself accountable to Ben.  If I tell him I’m working on a story then I feel like I ought to finish so he can read it.  Instant motivation!
Give yourself a deadline

This ties in with accountability thing, but don’t loose your mind if you miss your deadline.  It doesn’t mean you’re a massive failure as a human being, it probably means you just need to be more realistic with yourself, that or you need to get cracking.

Get on it

The easiest way to beat procrastination is to just do it.  I promise you, it’s a hundred times easier than you think AND a million times better than having the thing hanging over your head.  So let’s rock and roll, stop reading this immediately and get to work!

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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Beating Writer’s Block

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In my experience, writer’s block means one of two things.  Either fear of moving forward, or being lost in the woods of your imagination.  I suppose it could just be a bad day too, but those pass more often than not without much ado, so let’s stick to the big two.

Tell fear to fuck off

Ben said a great thing to me once: ‘being angry is better than being sad’.  At the time I was trying to overcome a phobia (agoraphobia triggered by the subway) and it was the best advice I’d ever gotten.  So I started swearing at my fear, under my breath of course.  I tried my best to think of all the things in the world that made me angry and I got pissed.  I told my fear to fuck off and it worked.  Getting sad or low about writer’s block will probably only serve to send you into a funk that ends with you sitting on your bed, watching the ceiling fan and thinking about nothing.  But that’s just boring.  So before you get sad, get angry.  Try giving your writer’s block a few mental kicks and a little bit of rage then settle yourself down and…

Just write

Write anything.  It doesn’t have to have anything to do with the offending novel or story that got you into this mess in the first place.  Write a list of your favorite foods, make up a character and write about him or her, write about a day at the beach gone horribly wrong.  Don’t think too much, just write, no pressure for greatness, footloose and fancy free.  Once you get back in the saddle of free and imaginative writing, you’ll remember why you love it, I promise.

Don’t try to be amazing

While in the midst of this ‘just write’ trance, don’t try to be awesome, don’t try to write the next great novel or story that you want to have published by the New Yorker.  Just write because you love it and it feels good and real and wonderful.  Trying to be amazing is a fool’s errand anyway because everyone has different opinions on what greatness is, so it’s up to you to find out what YOU love, not what everyone else loves.  So after you’ve done the anger, then the free form joyful remembering why you love writing, it’s time to find your way again.

Make a map

Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t want to ask for directions out of pride or the feeling that you ought to just ‘know’ which way is west.  Make yourself a map.  If you’re writing a novel this will look an awful lot like a story outline and if you’re like me and writing a fantasy novel (yes my short story suddenly turned into a novel) then it will be an actual map.  Structure and form can often be helpful for writers, even if we’re used to flailing about and simply ‘being creative’.  Order is good, but remember you only make lines so you can colour outside of them.

So now that we have the big two covered, let’s take a quick peek at the other options for beating that jerky writer’s block.

Exercise

I know you’ve already done your 30 minutes of exercise today, because it’s healthy and you can’t just sit around writing all day long letting your muscles atrophy, but when writer’s block strikes, it’s time to get up and move.  Exercise is awesome for a million reasons.  It loosens you up, gives you time to think, makes you feel good and apparently, makes your brain bigger!  Holy cow, how awesome is that?  Go now!  Run or walk (preferably in nature as that has stress reducing benefits as well) and get your brain working for you!

Talk to someone

Ben is my muse.  We get endless hours of enjoyment from planning out my stories and novels together.  If I’m facing writer’s block there’s nothing like a half hour walk with my honey to get me back on track.  Find yourself someone you can trust and bounce your ideas off them.  Writing doesn’t have to be a stoic, lonely thing and there’s no shame in talking it through.

Have an adventure

Go out there and live, then come back and write about it.  The world is a big place, filled with inspiration and excitement.  If you spend all your time at your computer writing about life, you might just end up not having anything to write about.  Go live it up and don’t be afraid to take a moment away from your writing, it will still be there when you get back…I promise.

Okay that’s all.  If you’ve done all these things and still have writer’s block, perhaps it’s time to switch gears and start a new project.  Leave your old one behind and give it some breathing room, then come back to it in a couple of months and see if it still has legs.

What do you do to beat writer’s block?

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!

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My Optimal Atmosphere

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Here’s a little known fact about me.  I’m a mover.

A spider at heart, I typically move once a year, tearing down my web and rebuilding somewhere else.  And if I don’t?  I get restless.  It’s horrible.  If you’ve ever felt the itch to travel or to leave your job and join the circus, you’ll know how I feel when the moving fever sweeps over me.  I yearn for everything I haven’t got.  All the things that seemed quaint and quirky when I first moved in become unbearable.  The leaks drip louder, the floors creak more and the chipping paint on the walls becomes my existential crisis.

I long for a clean slate.  I crave change and newness of environment.

In the past six years I have lived in six different places.  It’s great, but I do have one major regret.

Like any good spider, I like my bed to be aloft, in some small corner, preferably only accessible by ladder.  I love ladders and high ceilings and bright colours and lots of light.  I also love a lack of neighbours.  I love the idea that I am alone in my space, far away from anyone else.  I mean, if I wanted people I would just go outside right?

So I love a loft.  Even more so, I love a loft that is not in a typical loft building and that’s what I had for one sweet, beautiful year.  See that picture up there?  That’s my old place, that thing up the ladder?  My bed.  We called it the cloud and I loved that place best of all the places I have ever lived (there was another storage loft opposite to the bed).  Working there was a pleasure, living there was a wonder.  It was bright (skylit), interesting, spacious and best of all it was in a building that was an office, so I only had one neighbouring apartment and it happened to be vacant for most of the time I lived there.  It was perfection.  My optimal atmosphere.  It was in the heart of downtown and I long for it to this day.

If I didn’t love the beaches so much I would move back there in a heart beat.  The only downfall?  A tiny window provided low air flow and the water pressure sucked.  But for the joy of living in such a perfect place, it was worth it.  I didn’t know it then, but I do now.

So my optimum atmosphere is something new.  I hate staying in one place for too long (which makes buying a house seem like a claustrophobic nightmare), but if I had my way, my next succession of apartments would be non-stop lofts, with wide open spaces, colourful walls and beds that hang in the corner like a spider’s web.

What’s your dream place?

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This is a post for www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge.  One blog post a day for all of June!  Check it out at the website or on twitter: @sofluid or #wpad!