Tag Archives: procrastination

Productive? Prolific? Sign Me Up!

I am so happy to bring my first book review to the Waterworld Mermaids’ lagoon immediately after posting on the problem of Fear.  Being a writer who spends way too much time worrying about not writing, I am always hoping to find words of wisdom that might help me embrace my craft.

       The Productive Writer, by Sage Cohen, is one book in my arsenal.  Ms Cohen writes as both a business professional and a poet.  She believes, as she states early in her introduction, that productivity is a lifestyle choice.  I used this book extensively last winter, carrying it in my satchel and dipping into it for reading on my train rides to and from the Bronx each weekday morning.  I could dip into a chapter (“Transforming Your Realtionship with Time,” or “Writing in the Margins of a Full-Time Life”, among others) and meditate on ten or so pages.  Even if I only scanned the headings of part of a chapter, I felt comforted and reinvigorated, ready to face the task ahead.  Productive Writer remains at my elbow here at home most days.  After Thursday’s post and responses, I think it needs to go back in my satchel.

Last Saturday, I was the lucky winner of Hillary Rettig’s The 7 Secrets of the Prolific.  I’d just been treated to a presentation from this speaker at a CTRWA monthly meeting, and was thrilled to know that I would be taking her wisdom home with me.  Ms. Rettig writes that, yes, writers procrastinate for many reasons.  She takes time to examine perfectionism, resource constraints, time constraints, bias, internalized oppression and exploitation, just to scratch the surface.  In discussing these, she seeks to help us change our inner dialogue and unsnarl the spaghetti that keeps us blocked from fully embracing our mission to be productive. 

I know that these two books, alone, won’t make me the writer I dream of becoming.  They are tools.  But the wisdom and insight contained in each helps provide a re-dedication to my talent and goals.  Suddenly, I’m looking forward to all those train rides this winter…


The Productive Writer is available in print and as an ebook at both amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

The 7 Secrets of the Prolific is available as an ebook at amazon.com. Print copies can be purchased at http://hillaryrettig.com.




Fear is good.  It keeps you safe.  Fear keeps you from going down the wrong street, trusting the wrong people, taking risks that are bad for you.  Fear that runs amok and takes control of your life, though, keeps you from enjoying some of the most productive and marvelous moments possible:  working on your chosen craft and enjoying the fruits of your work.

Witness my inability to contribute to the Mermaid short story effort this Fall.  I was silent, unable to compose even a scrap of an idea for that wonderful festival of creativity.  Yes, I was trapped in a web of fear, a crawling, deadly hive of poisonous fear that kept my fingers frozen for weeks that stretched into months.  Why?

Because I was silly enough to trigger a word count on my Lake Effect manuscript instead of just keeping on with the writing.   Argh!  I wasn’t going to finish by my self-imposed deadline!  I’d failed!  Again!   At which point I took refuge in endless edits of material that I wrote last year, instead of taking time to reflect and re-evaluate, to mourn and then do the brave thing:  work forward.

Even now, I get distracted by the details of my story.  Is the father alive or dead?  If I use the alternate opening for Chapter One, will it be possible to achieve the light-hearted style I’d embraced in the original?  Is there a sister or not?  And should Desmond and Nicole break up at the very start of the book, or should I shift that scene back to Chapter Ten (which remains suspiciously blank)?  Do I need to take a break and do my makeup?  Isn’t there laundry that has to be put on?  How tidy does the house need to be before the plumber arrives?  And, oh yeah, how about registering for the RWA Anaheim conference?

my life on jan 18!

You know what that is?  Uh huh.  It’s my fear, taking it out in the sneaky distractions of every day life.  I’m not going to see anyone today, I have clean clothes, the plumber already called and said he can’t be here until next week, and Anaheim isn’t sold out.  Stop making excuses, girl, and get back to work!

Do you make excuses?  I do.  Let’s share and see if we can unsnarl the distractions and excuses we make to justify not getting our work done.