Idea Avalanches, Procrastination & Getting Some Writing Done

KIMI ALEXANDRE is a writer, blogger, podcaster and the author of Guardians, a podcast novel.

Her blog, Tale Chasing, is for writers and readers of urban fantasy.

A recent post on Tale Chasing, entitled Drowning…, really opened a vein for me. Kimi was talking about a goal she didn’t fulfill for January and her issues with procrastination.

She described some of the many creative endeavors she’s got going (as well as a fitness program and eating more sensibly). “I simply get overwhelmed by the amount of things I need/want to do,” she said.

Not only does this sound like so many of us, I was charmed and encouraged by Kimi’s honesty in describing her situation. I decided to leave a comment on her blog about my own struggles and realizations with the issues she’d raised.

Kimi kindly allowed me to reproduce the comment here on my own blog:

Kimi, this post definitely rang some big bells for me.

You’re an ideas person–that much is clear–but maybe you haven’t quite accepted yourself for that yet. Just guessing, because I’m one too and I’ve had my own struggles with that. And the way you describe your situation sounds SO familiar!

We “ideas people” tend to think everyone is like that–that everyone has too many creative (or other) ideas and not enough time to put them all into play. But that’s not so. If that was really true, then TV would not be nearly as popular as it is ;~)

Anyway, here are a couple of things that, in my own imperfect way, I’ve come up with to help me with this situation:

– Accept that I’m an ideas person and that the ideas (and/or the impulses to embark on new creative projects) will never stop. But that I can gain some perspective and control simply by accepting myself for it.

– Find a way to capture my ideas as they come, but don’t act on them immediately. If I keep a record of them, and just keep adding to it, eventually I start to see some imperatives jumping out at me. Each idea I get is always “hot,” and I want to do it NOW. But if I write it down, it loses some of its heat and then I can go back to the main thing(s) I was already working on. The peace of mind this brings me really helps. I remind myself, “These are all great ideas, but I cannot give life to them all. I’m only human.”

– Later, I can come back to all those ideas I recorded and decide whether to act on them. And sometimes this is even better, because stuff I’ve learned since then helps me write a better blog post, article, short story or whatever.

– I use Whizfolders to capture and organize my ideas–but it sounds like you’ve already found something that works great for you.

[See Kimi’s comments in Drowning… about TeamWorkPM.]

– I looked at how much I was helping others and how much that was interfering with my own creative dreams. I felt obligated to help everyone else with their writing dreams. And I’ve been doing that for nine years now. But I reached a point where I said, “Ya know what? I want to focus on my own biggest project for now.” (a screenplay) So I made official announcements to my students and coaching clients that I was taking a sabbatical. And then I began to work on getting selfish for my own writing. I immediately got much happier!

– This is not to say I don’t still want to help people. But I’ve narrowed it down for now to simpler things. Like writing blog posts that can help people with their fear of writing (and even this is a selfish act, because I only do it when I want to), or leaving supportive comments on my friends’ Facebook profiles.

– I’ve allowed myself to see that, in some situations, being selfish is called for. Because I have my own creativity to express and I’m always going to be frustrated at some level if I don’t give my all to that.

– I’ve worked on giving myself acceptance for some daily habits that I thought were “bad” and were really adding to my procrastination (such as working in my pajamas until 2 pm). I was embarrassed that I wasn’t more “together” . . . but I was instinctively trying to live the free-flow of a creative person. And, ha! Other people don’t care as much as I feared they would. The Schwan’s guy came to deliver and it was almost noon. I was eating breakfast in my jammies. He didn’t even blink an eye. He was too focused on his own imperatives to notice what I was doing. I felt so liberated! Especially because I felt no need to explain myself.

Hope this helps a little. Your blog post really helped me! Cuz even though I’ve worked on accepting myself more, I did feel alone with it. Just reading someone else describing the same problems that I have was very comforting. Thanks for your honesty!

And best of luck with everything you desire to do. Despite the feeling that you’re procrastinating, you *are* achieving a lot and making a difference. And you really care. That counts for so much.

– Milli

In her list of procrastinations Kimi confessed she hadn’t posted to her blog for a while. Ditto for me. Once again, I’d built it up in my mind to be something I needed so “set aside time for.”

Ironically, the comment I left on Kimi’s blog (that flowed out of me practically without needing to think) was the equivalent of a blog post! I’d already done the “work” I’d been avoiding without realizing I was tricking myself into it.

As a student said to me in a recent email:

“I am trying to figure out some way I can incorporate writing into my daily routine in a natural way! I feel like I make a big production of it in my mind and then end up not doing any actual writing!”

Sometimes we just need to trick ourselves. Over-thinking is not the way.

Now, if someone would just come out with a new CD, YouTube video, e-book or something to show us how to trick ourselves on a regular basis!

RELATED TOPIC: Read Kimi’s blog post, Drowning…

One Response to Idea Avalanches, Procrastination & Getting Some Writing Done
  1. Lucy
    February 14, 2009 | 3:49 PM

    Hey Milli, thanks for your comment over at my place – Raving Dave is a great guy. I’d be very happy to read for you in the future! Good luck with your writing in the meantime x

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