Manuscripts and Procrastination

I am a procrastinator. All weekend I knew that my book manuscript (and three paying freelance articles) were due today. I freed my schedule on Saturday for writing, knowing that I had a board meeting for the local non-profit I work with on Sunday morning and wanted to clean the house before today.

So, what did I do on Saturday? I slept until noon. I helped the fiance’ ACE bandage his poor achin’ shoulder. I wrote posts for another non-paying blog- eleven of them. I caught up on my blog reader. I watched 80’s  movies with Ally Sheedy and Phoebe Cates. I walked over to the grocery store. I had a donut with the future mother-in-law. All in all, plenty was done. Just not what needed to be.

Which means that Sunday became a frantic race to dash home from my board meeting and be creative on command. I scraped together my juices, threw some music on the iTunes, kicked the fiance’ out the door to work, dragged the laptop from room to room to find the best spot in which to be creative. Creativity is hard to muster on command. As the day wore on, I convinced myself I would never finish. That I couldn’t possibly write anything. That I would miss my deadlines and my chance to get published (and get paid for the freelance work). I fell into despair.

And then, I remembered my old mantra from the long summer I spent teaching at an arts camp. “It will happen, because it must happen, and then it will be over.” (And when the kids weren’t around I added, “and then there will be cocktails. Lots of them.”) It’s never let me down. I’ve found very little that must be done can’t be.

So, I took out the contacts. Put on my glasses, which always make me feel more serious and ready to work. Sucked it up, put on my big girl panties, and wrote. And wrote, and wrote, and wrote.

It may not be brilliant. Or perfect. But its done. And my editors will appreciate my working on time a lot more than tardy perfection. (Especially since there’s still time for rewrites….)

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7 Comments

Filed under Daily Life, Working for a Living, Writing

7 responses to “Manuscripts and Procrastination

  1. bipolarlawyercook

    You can always edit, later, but some editors will never forgive a missed deadline. Good on you!

  2. That’s a great mantra, I’m going to jot that down for myself. Glad you managed to pull everything off, it’s always such a relief afterwards.

    Eleanor: Glad you like it. I had it scrawled on a chalkboard for my kids at camp (minus the cocktail portion that is).

  3. Yay, you! Isn’t doing the seemingly impossible such a great feeling?

    Eleanor: AMEN to that, sister.

  4. I’m guilty of putting things off ’til the last minute, but like you said, it always manages to get done.. somehow.

    Eleanor: …even if it does feel like a miracle.

  5. Lina

    Where was your mantra when I was in high school, college, etc.!! I love it!

    However, I seem to work best under the agonizing pressure of time. Once I had an important paper due the next day, ended up asleep, woke up at 3 in the morning, wrote the thing in 30 minutes, and went back to sleep for a few more hours before I had to get up for school. The teacher loved it, AND read it to the class as the perfect example of an A.P. paper. I thought the paper was crap, but oh well, in his voice it was a heavenly analysis of Sylvia Plath’s insanity. 😀

    Eleanor: Maybe Ms. Plath was just tired? I’m the same way. I finished by 87 page undergrad thesis in a week and a half (with minutes to spare).

  6. How did you get a book contract (i.e., what’s your secret?)?

    I’ve applied to enter an MFA program in poetry. I have a manuscript for a children’s story that could be finished this month.

    How do you find out who is open to such things as an attempt to write a Chinese folk tale starring a little girl who saves the village from drought by facing the dragon, encountering the phoenix, etc.? With love for my 5-yr-old daughter who was born in China. I have the motivation but feel like a complete ignoramus in developing a plan to move forward.

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