Help me welcome Donna Cummings from All About the Writing. Today she’s going to help us raise our productivity level and lower our procrastination level!
“Wow, how am I expected to handle that? It’s huge.”
“Massive. I’ll bet it’s even bigger than you thought it would be.”
“It is! There’s no way I can do this. It’s impossible to even try.”
“It’ll work. Trust me. Just take a deep breath.”
It’s obvious from this conversation that I’m talking about. . . Wait. You thought it was–NO! I’m talking about revisions.
Revisions are always huge. They should be labeled with that warning on rearview mirrors, about things being larger than they appear.
That’s what makes them so daunting. It’s tough enough to create something out of nothing, but believe it or not, that’s the FUN part of the process. Now there’s all this stuff, and it has to be shaped into other stuff. Stuff that makes sense. Stuff that’s readable, and unputdownable, and. . .
I hate to admit it, but I’ve been in this particular spot for a lot longer than I expected. It’s like waiting all day in line for a Disneyland ride and then finding out it’s closed for maintenance.
How do we get past this point? I’ve tried lots of things, and some of them work better than others, but what every method requires is this: getting started.
Talk about HUGE.
Recently I found something that works for me, and I want to share it with you. But first, I have to tell you how I got there. I stumbled across a book called Get It Done: From Procrastination to Creative Genius in 15 Minutes a Day, by Samantha Bennett. There are so many great things in this book, I was applying sticky notes to just about every paragraph. I knew I’d found my creative soulmate when she suggested allowing 15 minutes a day for daydreaming.
But something else she mentioned actually gave me the kick-in-the-pants start I’ve been seeking. She suggests writing down 15-minute tasks that can be done on our projects, because we all can do something for 15 minutes, right? This gives us a ready-made list of bite-size tasks, so we can just jump right in and get to work each day.
I started making a list of 15-minute revisions I wanted to do on the WIP. (I know it’s delusional to think I can accomplish them in 15 minutes, but I’m good at tricking my brain into working longer once it’s in the throes of writing. Shhh–it’ll be our little secret.)
For example, I wrote down “Re-read Chapter 1 and add a sentence about the hero’s fears of being a father that he hasn’t been able to articulate before”. To my surprise, it also gave me another idea of what I wanted to do, but which *I* hadn’t been able to articulate before.
I did this with each chapter. A quick sentence or two was usually all that was needed. It helped me discover precisely why I have that chapter there, what I hoped it would do when I drafted it, and what it could do better. One chapter was asked (nicely) to leave, while two scenes decided they would be more effective by becoming one with each other.
The next thing I knew, my little 15-minute task of listing these 15-minute tasks had gotten me through the entire manuscript. I’d been dragging my feet on doing revisions, because it felt like a sprawling uncharted continent requiring a machete and two chainsaws. But I’d tamed it. I’d turned it into tidy little subdivisions with manicured lawns and white picket fences.
The best part is I’m excited to get to work on these 15-minute tasks. They’re doable. They even seem kind of fun, because I have a roadmap for fixing things instead of fretting that I’ll dismantle what I worked so hard to mantle. I also get to cross 15 or 20 things off the To Do list rather than the single solitary “fix this broke-ass WIP” item.
I’m feeling productive, seeing actual results, and vanquishing the procrastination monster in 15-minute increments.
Talk about HUGE.
Okay RU Readers and Writers – what’s your helpful hints to productivity?
Join us on Wednesday for Vanessa Knight and Nerds Unite! Plotting is Awesome!
I have worked as an attorney, winery tasting room manager, and retail business owner, but nothing beats the thrill of writing humorously-ever-after romances.
I reside in New England, although I fantasize about spending the rest of my days in a tropical locale, wearing flip flops year-round, or in Regency London, scandalizing the ton.
I can usually be found on Twitter, talking about writing and coffee, and on Facebook, talking about coffee and writing.
My latest book, An Encouraging Word, is meant to raise your spirits when it seems like the writing is at a constant black moment. You’ll see how to handle that cranky inner critic, outsmart the fussy muse, and turn avoidance and procrastination into valuable productivity tools.
Social Media Links:
- Weekly Lecture Schedule April 7-11
- It’s Great Advice, But I Can’t Seem to Follow It – Donna Cummings
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for March 26 – March 30, 2012
- Weekly Lecture Schedule, Monday, June 2 – Friday, June 6, 2014
- Writerspeak by Donna Cummings