Laziness, Complacency & Accountability

I dislike people who don’t do what they say they will. It’s one of my biggest pet-peeves. This extends further than just the typical chores my partner suggests he might do on a weekend that remain undone for another week, a month – sometimes more. The distaste for such people actually becomes stronger the larger the goal. I hate the thought of someone saying that they plan to walk coast to coast, learn to be a mechanic or become a local MP and then NOT do it. I don’t mean fail at it, I mean put in no effort whatsoever in trying to achieve said goal. It makes me believe they have only said it to impress or reassure themselves that they aren’t wasting their lives. And the more times it is said I often find the less effort is put in to accomplish it.

Unfortunately I appear to have become one of these people. Not so much that I’ve begun to hate myself, but enough that I’m starting to wonder if I really mean what I say when I tell people I want to be a published author. I’ve been writing/editing the same novel on and off for almost five years. And it’s still not even half way ready to share with the world. It is beginning to seem that I like the sound of my idea more than I like the actual work involved in achieving it. And I don’t want that to be true. This isn’t the type of person I pride myself on being.

Now, I could offer up a whole host of excuses reasons for why it’s taken me this long to make it this far: I have a debilitating condition (which I am mostly recovered from); I’ve been concentrating on refining my craft (hasn’t everyone? Isn’t this a life-long commitment?); I’ve been working on other things (another two novels and short stories – most of which isn’t ready to share with the world either); I’ve been busy….(blah, blah, blah). We all have hurdles to overcome and many of us succeed in balancing life with a desire to write and be published. If it really was so difficult then we wouldn’t have hundreds of thousands of books to potentially read.

So I have to ask myself: what’s stopping me?

Rather than beat myself up over sliding into the fickle, questionable nature of a person who likes to talk about doing things, but never actually does them, I need to figure out what the barriers are that might prevent me from acting on my words. Take that list of excuses *ahem* reasons above; they might all be valid explanations as to why I’ve stalled on progress. But, I can tell you right now that they’re not the truth about why I haven’t got a finished novel on my hands. Want to know the real reason?

I got lazy.
(the incorrect nature of this very sentence is further demonstration of my writing lethargy)

wpid-img_20150221_1821122.jpg.jpegThat’s it. I dropped the ball. I’ve been procrastinating, getting distracted by worthless things instead of practising the one proven technique guaranteed to produce results: hard work. But “dreams don’t work unless you do“. I’ve had this quote stuck up on my notice board for a little while now, and though I’ve been fooling myself that I have been working hard I’ve realised recently that I’ve not been as committed or dedicated as I could be. I’ve lost sight of what I could have if only I carried on working. What is stopping me from working hard is the lack of vision I have.

I used to day-dream about what it would be like to see my name in print, for people to enjoy reading the words I had written. What fuelled me was the desire I had to hear people talk about my stories and the pleasure they got from reading them. I have been lucky enough to receive some of this thanks to the performance of my piece, The Memorial TreeNot only that, but I recently got some external validation that my stories were worth sharing when I discovered that a well-known UK magazine was interested in publishing my work and were willing to pay me for it! (more on this in March)

So, in addition to laziness, what else is stopping me? Complacency. I got a taste of what I’ve been hungry for and it satisfied enough of me to trick me into a false sense of security. But, ultimately, this isn’t what I want. I want to see my novel – this novel, the one I’ve been working on for so long – out there in the world, because I believe it could be a good book; if I didn’t believe this then I wouldn’t have invested so long into crafting it.

Therefore I need a plan of action to get me out of this rut: to make sure I do those things I say I want. What better way than to publicly announce my intentions and to ask those that support me to cheer me on, push me when I need it and hold me accountable to my goals? I’m trusting you, readers, to do this for me in the hopes of one day seeing that I’m true to my word.

I hereby commit to completing the current revision of That Which is Left is Lost by April 1st 2015 (in time to take part in Camp NaNo to work on some new material).
This will mean a schedule of completing a minimum of two scenes per writing day (days I’m not working or currently have plans).

This plan is do-able. Two scenes a day is achievable, even considering the major rewrites I have to do for the latter half of the novel. I’ve built in a couple of half-day buffers, so that if something comes up I still have a chance at making the deadline. This is it. I can do this.

Another apt quote from my noticeboard...

Another apt quote from my noticeboard…

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26 responses to “Laziness, Complacency & Accountability

  1. Pingback: On being original | Write on the World

  2. I love this post; I’ve been wrestling with 2 novels, one for 2 years and the other for over 10 (!!). And I KNOW they could both be done by now. I get lazy too but I do think my biggest problem is fear. A mixed fear of both failure and success. But this year, I will finish the draft of novel 2. I’ve told myself my goal is simply to write it and not worry about the end result at this stage.

    Best of luck with completing your revision. Putting your deadline out here for all to see was the right thing to do, and will be the push that you need. You can do this x

  3. I think we all fall off the wagon every now and again. I try not to beat myself up about it and I also remind myself that break isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Batteries have to recharge and so does my muse. 🙂

    • That’s so true. But I will readily admit that in order to fall off said wagon you have to be on it to begin with, and not sure I have been since the new year! It is important not to beat ourselves up over it – much better to recognise that we need to clamber back onto the wagon and begin again. And we definitely need to build in rests to recharge as you say.
      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  4. Your post has shocked me into action. I know people who have grand designs and have no intention of even starting what they say they are going to do. When did become one? There is light at the end of the tunnel admitting it is the first step to change. I toast you a cup of rocket fuel to get your novel down this year and I hope to join you with a novel of my own.

    • Thanks doll! And so great to hear that you’ll be on a similar journey. I’m gonna need that cup of rocket fuel, already missed one writing day thanks to my other job!

  5. 2 scenes a day? Sounds like a plan. Do you want me to punt a puppy or stare at you menacingly for each day it doesn’t happen?

  6. I know you can do it and so do you, deep down so don’t give me any of that stuff in your title! It’s hard for us all to juggle what we’ve got going on in our lives but not having a deadline does make it easier for things to slip. You’ve set an ambitious goal but if you can just do something towards it every day or couple of days, you will feel better about it all, I promise. Make your goals realistic and then go after them. And like Terry said, don’t be too hard on yourself – that’s what you’re always telling me! Time to take your own advice 🙂

    • Thanks Julie, you’re so totally right 😉 I’m lucky to have other writers such as you and terry looking out for me and keeping my feet firmly planted in the here and now. 😉 I think I like to err on the side of over ambitious rather than settle for something easy.
      Thanks for the support, know I can rely on you to spur me on and keep me positive. X

  7. Very best of luck! Can I ask what the plan is after this revision? Is That Which is Left is Lost going to a beta reader? Or out to agents/an editor? Plans can always change, but I’ve found it useful to have the next step in mind so I don’t run out of steam and end up staring at the wip going, “Err, what now?”

    • I would like to send it out to another set of beta readers for critique before a final pass in anticipation of searching for agents. Ideally I’d like to be querying it before the end of the year, staring 2016 with an agented novel as I work on the second. That’s the current plan anyway, but as you say, things can change so it’s always sensible to keep other options in mind.

  8. Interesting post, Cat. I wonder, though, whether this laziness isn’t in fact just a desire to get it absolutely right – in which case, it’s not a bad thing at all. I’m convinced also that sometimes what might be termed ‘laziness’ is, in the writer’s world, just a matter of letting ideas and concepts slowly mature. I don’t think that creativity can necessarily be forced to meet a deadline; it works at its own pace. We live in a deadline-driven world, though, so it’s sometimes hard to accept that.

    One of my favourite authors, Donna Tartt, is currently working to a pace of about one novel per decade. She’s not lazy, by any means; she’s taking her time, getting it right. Quite possibly her novels wouldn’t be quite as good if she forced herself to write more quickly.

    • Thanks Mari, this is a really interesting point and a very valid one at that. I do want to get it right – if only because I want this novel to be finished and get its chance in the world! I do keep having ideas and adding to the story, mostly subtle layers that enhance the theme so I can relate to what you say.
      Thanks for sharing, it gives me a new perspective and will make sure I don’t lose sight of the bigger picture – I’d prefer to have a novel I’m proud of that take a little longer than rush it and regret it! X

  9. Good luck – I wonder if you’re being a bit hard on yourself, though, and one of the reasons is that you fear it won’t be as good as you want it to be. If that’s the case (search deep inside to find out if it is!) take comfort in this – it will probably be better than you think it is, and first novels pave the way for improvement. I think also if you concentrate on wanting ‘to write’ rather than ‘to be a writer’, you might find it easier. You could always forget NaNo and just spend the time finishing the first novel. Imagine how good you would feel!!! As for laziness – well, hey, we all are sometimes!

    • Thanks terry, your advice is always honest and worth considering. I think I’ve got to the point where I need to be a little hard on myself because otherwise it will never get finished! I do feel I am ready to write the book as it should be and that I can make it as good as I can. If anything, I think my fear is that I’m not doing it the justice I know it deserves – I know I have it in me to make it really great and my procrastination is getting in the way of that.
      You’re right about us all being a bit lazy now and then, sometimes we need it. But I’m ready to put the effort in and shun laziness for a little while now. 🙂 At least until the next time 😉
      Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I always feel like you’re looking out for me and I’m glad you share your advice here. X

      • But I still wonder if the procrastination is really deep-seated, subconscious self-doubt… the fear that you might not live up to your own high expectations. (‘If I don’t finish it, I can keep telling myself it’s going to be great when I do’) But hey – I’m always saying ‘stop analysing and start doing’, so I shall not encourage you to become more introspective!!! 😀 😀

      • Lol! It’s like you’re writing my own internal monologue! When I’m not writing I’m thinking about why I’m not writing and what it all means…! But, yes, sometimes the introspection needs to be put aside for action. 😉

  10. Sounds all too familar, although one of my resolutions is to do it and not talk about it. Only because I have been work on my second novel an embarrassing long time. But I have got a deadline in my head (sort of)

    • My deadlines only work if I put them out there I find. If they’re in my head they’re all too easy to shift and not prioritise! I like the idea of ‘doing it’ rather than talking about it. My fear would be that I’d end up not doing it! Good luck with the second novel – sometimes it takes longer than we anticipated but we can get there in the end.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. X

  11. Good luck, I am in exactly the same position. I need to get my draft revised by April to meet hit my editing slot. You can do this, I’m here if you want to do the accountability partner thing. (I know I need it.)

  12. I really hope that you get what you want in the end. Procrastination is a terrible thing to beat. The quote is true, that if it takes today, it will also take tomorrow.
    I wish you the best of luck with your writing and future!

    • Thank you! Setting a deadline and having someone I’m accountable is a key strategy for me. If I don’t have anyone badgering me about getting things done I just put it off indefinitely, even if it’s a personal priority.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

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