Every writer knows the insistent call: there are dishes in the sink, 61 unread emails, the dog needs a bath, prepare for that book club appearance, make that dentist appointment …maybe if I just take care of those things first, then I can write. But “those things” are gluttonous; they devour the day.

And the next day: I have a meeting to go to this afternoon, can’t start anything now, might as well do the laundry and clean the fridge, return those phone calls, answer those emails. And there’s always the marketing: make the phone calls, deliver the packets, schedule appearances.

But the real reason writing time is sporadic? I have too many projects, chapters, and blog articles in my head, and want to do them all at once. Can’t settle down and do just one.

Last night, after getting home from a long weekend attending a granddaughter’s graduation from UW in Seattle, I was too tired to write. But I wanted to start out Monday morning writing!  I made a list of projects, their current status, and the single next step needed to make progress on each one. Then it seemed easier.


Status: Plot/scene outline completed;  Five pieces reviewed, must revise

Single next step: Pick one piece, revise it


Status: Many chapters done, must revise to reflect   Looking Through Water

Single next step: Draft a new Chapter One

3. “ON CAREGIVING”—Postlogue/sequel to Five Stages of Getting Well: Requested by publisher of Chinese translation of Five Stages

Status: Two pieces written; this could be another book

Single next step: Revise “Shut Up. And Don’t Leave.” and send to publisher

Simply organizing the tasks in this way freed up my mind. Immediately, I saw that I could revise the “Shut Up” piece before I went to bed. It turned out to take only half an hour and left me feeling ready for the next day. Today. 

It’s 9:20 a.m., and I’ve done a second revision of “Shut Up,” sent it off, and posted it on my other blog. Check!

Now I’m going to start to work on the first chapter of the Sequel to Water. I know where to start, because a month or so ago I made a chart for the four sections of the novel, and plotted 12 scenes for each section. It turned out I had already written (before Water) 39 of the 48 scenes. But 11 of them require major revision. I’ll need to do a mini-biography of each character in light of Water. Lots to do. But for now, I have to tackle that first chapter. I’ll do the bios later.

Finally, after a couple of months of running in place, with lots of distractions, most of them necessary, I’m back on track. And now, I’ve added a fourth item to the project list:


Status: Not much, lately

Single next step: Write and post an article on Procrastination for the author blog




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5 responses to “Procrastination

  1. Hi Judith,
    I interviewed you a while back on my blog-authorinprogress and wanted to see how the book is doing…I am poised on the chasm of self-publishing with way too much info! what to do? what to do? I enjoyed your blog.

    • judyallen

      The info will settle down once you’re into it. Then you can blog about the process! (As I have done–scroll down to see it.) I’m still happy with my POD publisher, but I think I’d keep the ebook rights for myself and figure out how to down load directly from my web site, for a small price that people would pay without serious thought. Like $3.33.

      Chasm is right!!

    • judyallen

      How is publishing going?

  2. Michael Edwards

    I always feel so much better, in control of the outcomes, when I do this sort of planning – lists basically. I clearly get this from you mom!

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