Why didn’t I do that sooner?

The first draft of my query letter is finished, and I don’t know why I kept putting it off.  Once I started thinking about the novel, the important pieces of it and the interesting elements that I wanted to share, it just seemed to fall into place.  Usually, if I’m procrastinating on something, it’s because I think it will be hard or I don’t want to do it.  In this case, as so often happens, it wasn’t nearly as hard or unpleasant as I anticipated.

Of course, it’s just a first draft.  It’s going to need some major revisions before it’s sent.  A query letter is the first (and often only) impression that a potential agent gets, so it needs to be flawless.  At least the first step is done!

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The Secret Truth about Procrastination

I am a major procrastinator.  Typically when I put something off I don’t even really know the reason.  There is a funny little secret about procrastination that I learned today, though.

It builds on itself.

The more I put something off, the more daunting or less enjoyable it seems.  The task that was something simple that I simply didn’t want to do now becomes this growing monster that I have to finish.  The pressure makes it less likely that it will get completed.

Today I was reminded that when I do finally sit down to get a project done, it is never as big as it seems.  It’s a little like baking pie that way.  I just need to find a way to remember that, so the minor procrastination doesn’t turn in to major avoidance.

Sleeping Food

Last night I watched Alton Brown’s Good Eats, specifically the episode about steak.  In it he mentions that if you slice into a hot steak too soon, the juices will all come out.  Thus, it is necessary to let a cooked steak rest before cutting it.  The frozen bread dough that I am using for a recipe today also says to let the dough rest before rolling it out.  Even my freezer meal that I make for lunch at work says to let it stand (another word for rest) in the microwave for 1 minute before eating.

All of this sleeping food reminds me of something I was told in high school.  It’s okay to wait until the last minute to write a paper.  Of course, this presumes that you have done the necessary research and preparation for the paper ahead of time.  The reason for this is the same reason that the food needs to rest.

When you let your subconscious brain work on something while you focus on another matter, sometimes the solution comes more easily.  Ever had that moment when you were trying to find a certain word or name but it wouldn’t come?  And then, ten minutes later, on a different topic of conversation, it hits you?  This is the same idea, only with writing.

I like to let scenes marinate in my mind for a little before I write them.  I don’t want to wait too long, because I might lose the good images or great lines, but the story is richer and more developed after repeated playing in my brain.  I’m not always procrastinating when I’m not writing – sometimes I’m letting the juices soak back in before I cut the steak open.

Procrastinating

I have a habit of using one project to procrastinate on another.  For example (hypothetically, of course) I might work on my story instead of unpacking my kitchen.  Interestingly enough, what is avoidance-worthy today might be the tool of avoidance tomorrow.  Again theoretically, I might have unpacked my kitchen tonight instead of working on a poster for work. 

Ok, neither of those is really hypothetical.  🙂

I am a big slacker, too, and I know it.  I have a lot of blog reading/commenting to catch up on, so I apologize if you feel ignored.  (I’m also planning a whole blog post just about slacker blogging – eventually.) 

For now, though, enough procrastinating.  I got my poster drafted, my kitchen (mostly) unpacked, and now I need to catch up on sleep.  I’ll get back to my story tomorrow.