Genesis of a Novel – Part IX – Procrastination and NaNoWriMo

Procrastination is such a wonderful thing. How else would author houses ever get cleaned?
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Many times I’ve been facing a project that seemed too big, too difficult, too annoying, too boring, and ended up with a clean house, mowed yard, or even a happy husband 😀
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However, even as a lifelong procrastinator, I’ve managed to get a few things done over the years. It’s so easy to fall into the trap, but it can also be escaped if you have the proper tools.
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My favorite one is to start with little bites. The smallest part of your project, the easiest bit, the least annoying chunk. Or at least the part you know how to do. Whittle away at the project until it looks less intimidating. Perhaps you’re supposed to write a scene you aren’t ready for – write the next one instead, or skip several ahead. Once you’ve completed some of the little bits, the rest might not look so intimidating.
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Another tool I use is the opposite – tackle the biggest, worst, heaviest task first. Once you get this monster out of the way, the rest looks like easy-peasy work you can do in your sleep.
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NaNoWriMo is another tool to battle the ever-present writers’ procrastination disease. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s National Novel Writing Month, held each November. Writers sign up and promise to write (not edit, just write!) 50,000 words during the month of November. There are support groups online and in real life, and you upload your words (just for the count) each day to keep track of your progress. You get badges and prizes when you complete goals, and when you’re done, you have a novel written! Or at least most of one.
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I’ve got a confession. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo. I emulate it when I am in ‘novel-writing-mode’, as I put a minimum of 2,000 words a day on myself. But I’ve never gotten into that mode anywhere near November 1, so I just do my own thing. So far I’ve written six novels and am 2/3 through my seventh, all in the last four years, so I must be doing something that works for me!
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Right now, however, I’m procrastinating my WIP. To be fair, I do have some good excuses, and some not so good. Life got hectic for a while. Work got hectic as well, and I worked long hours at the end of the quarter. Then my editor sent me a set of edits on #LegacyofLuck (Druid’s Brooch #3) which is due out in January, and I had to work on that.
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Oh, what a project that was! I had no idea I loved passive voice so much. I nuked so many instances of the words ‘to be’. ‘Was’ alone accounted for 2400 of my 105,000 words. I got that down to under 500. Then I realized I had to do the same sweep on my other two finished manuscripts, so I nuked through #TheEnchantedSwans. Now I’m working on Call of the Morrigu. Next I’ll hit up #MisfortuneofVision (Druid’s Brooch #4) … and then, just maybe, I can continue writing my WIP.
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However, last night I submitted my first scene of #MisfortuneofVision to my author group for critique. They loved it, but made some excellent suggestions about it, including a whole new opening scene. So I may work on that before I add words. It will have to supplant this scene completely.
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I also dreamt last night about a collection of five related short stories that I want to write about cats battling children’s nightmares. But that must be tabled. I’ve written the idea down, so I can get to it later.
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So many plotbunnies!
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What are your favorite ways of battling procrastination?
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I write historical fantasy novels, mostly set in Ireland, and a contemporary romance based on my parents’ 30-year search for true love. Don’t miss information on Celtic myth and history, as well as practical travel planning tips, and hidden places, in my travel books.
– Better To Have Loved – Contemporary romance based on the true story of my parents’ 30-year search for love
– Legacy of Hunger – Historical fantasy set in 1846 Ireland
– Legacy of Truth – Historical fantasy set around 1800 Ireland. Prequel to Legacy of Hunger. Available now!
– Legacy of Luck – Historical fantasy set in 1745 Ireland and Scotland. Prequel to Legacy of Truth, tentative release date January 11, 2017!
– The Enchanted Swans – Historical fantasy set in 500 BCE Ireland, based on The Children of Lir, an Irish Fairy Tale. Tentative release date March 8, 2017!
– Stunning, Strange and Secret: A Guide to Hidden Scotland
– Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland
More info at Green Dragon Artist :: Home ,
Christy Jackson Nicholas, Author , and
Tirgearr Publishing – Christy Nicholas
Green Dragon Artist Blog
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I am an artist, accountant and author living in western New York, transplanted from Denmark, Michigan, Florida, West Virginia, Pennsylvania (in that order!) I love the beauty of the world and sharing it with others through jewelry, photography, digital painting and writing.

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15 comments on “Genesis of a Novel – Part IX – Procrastination and NaNoWriMo
  1. E.F.B. says:

    Good article, GD! I think I wanna read about those nightmare-battling cats whenever you get around to writing them. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. JJ says:

    Your cat/nightmare idea reminded me of the movie Cat’s Eye. Not a really great movie, as I recall, but I liked the twist on the old deal about cats stealing your breath.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A.S. Akkalon says:

    At first I thought you were asking what my favourite ways of procrastinating were, and I thought, ooh, I can answer that! But how do I battle procrastination? That’s harder.

    I definitely a fan of the “small bites” technique.

    Another way that sometimes works for me is to figure out how to get excited about the task I have to do. Once I’m excited, procrastination melts away.

    My other one is to analyse why I have so much resistance to doing this task. Am I afraid I can’t do it and will be proven inadequate? Does it require physical effort and pain? Do I not currently have enough information to know how to tackle it? If that’s the case, I can make things easier by going out and getting more information. This works particularly well with writing. If I can’t get started on a scene, chances are it’s because I don’t know what’s supposed to happen. If I brainstorm first and then come back, often it flows easily.

    Liked by 2 people

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