>Procrastination vs. Downtime

>I’m reading a great book right now: Writing From the Inside Out by Dennis Palumbo.

He gave a seminar at our local writer’s conference last year. He is a writer and a therapist…who counsels writers. Kinda ironic. But good, in this case, because he totally GETS where we writers are coming from.

Anyway, I was just reading his chapter on procrastination, and he makes some important points.

  1. Downtime is an absolutely essential part of the writing life
  2. Downtime allows the subconscious to work
  3. Non-writers, i.e. spouses, friends, family members, don’t understand the difference between procrastination and downtime–it all looks the same to them

Writers do, however, know the difference. They may subconsciously lie to themselves because they are in avoidance mode –I would know because I do this quite well. And while they may also tell themselves the issue is with a particular work, more often procrastination results from the inner conflicts that revolve around the writing itself.

Currently, the later is the case with me. During my recent photography course, I got the idea of submitting my photos to stock photography sites. I justified it to myself with the lure of posibility–gaining a monetary return on my investment of product, time and educational pursuits. I can be very convincing, even when my subconsious knows exactly why I’m doing it.

But, this time around, my subconsious didn’t roll her eyes, wave her hand and sit back down in the rocking chair to wait it out. No. She stood up, stomped her foot, shook her head and said, “You’re not going to get away with that shit again!”

So, while I am interested in pursuing the stock photography, or doing something with my photography, at some point, I realize that the reason I’m focused in on it *now* is because I’m in a low spot where my writing is concerned.

My most recently completed manuscript has been racking up the rejection letters. I’m looking at an exhaustive list of additional agencies/agents to which I *should”* submit my work, which entails mountains of research, a fistful of money in the form of ink and stamps, not to mention a shitload of time. In addition to all those weights, after years of rejections, in the back of my mind some one’s whispering…why? You’re just going to get rejected.

I am also struggling with my current manuscript. It’s not flowing. My characters are pissy. The plot is a mess. My villain is completely schizophrenic — melting with white hot anger one minute, distracted and wimpy the next.

Given the circumstances, I know that my burning interest in stock photography is…yes, PROCRASTINATION.

Now, I could make myself believe it is a form of productive “goofing off”. I could say that taking pictures stokes my creativity, which it does. Or that I get a different view of the world through the camera lens, which I do. And that varied perspective will ultimately aid me in my writing, which it probably will.

But deep down, I know I’m avoiding my writing because of the tough issues I have to face, namely additional rejection of my completed work and fear of failure of my current work.

Doesn’t mean I have to stuff my other hobbies into the closet, just means I have to scale back and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.

Cognisant. That’s where I have to stay. Focused on the prize.