Category: Writing


The Procrastination Continues

I don’t think it’s likely to ever stop, actually. As much as I tell myself that I’m not going to procrastinate things when I get into college or an actual job, I kind of doubt that I’ll be able to throw off the years of habitual procrastination.

Anyway… I would really love to say that this blog post isn’t going to be just me complaining, but I’ll be honest. This post is definitely me complaining. No matter how much I can cleverly make it sound like I’m just pondering life questions and being philosophical, it’s just me in my bedroom, procrastinating my AP Chemistry homework.

I don’t care how motivated and against procrastination you are; if you were in my AP Chemistry class, you’d be procrastinating. Exhibit A: my friend Kayla. Kayla is the only other girl in my AP Chemistry class, which sounds sad only until you know that there are only seven (soon to be six) people in our class. We’re smarter than those guys anyway… no, we aren’t. The point is, out of all the geniuses in our class, Kayla is the one most likely to succeed. She is literally first in our graduating class. Seriously, when we get our transcripts, we’re ranked out of everyone in our grade. I’m usually around 100 out of 300 and Kayla is always numero uno.

She’s had a 4.0 since probably elementary school and she doesn’t procrastinate. She goes home, her mother sits her down at the table and she gets all her homework done. Always. She was even in my AP Literature class, which was pretty rigorous. She never skipped a day of reading or an essay. Not only does she get fantastic grades, but she’s awesome as well. We watched BBC Sherlock at another friend’s house once.

Little Kayla; practically perfect in every way. Even she procrastinates our AP Chemistry homework. It’s so hard.

Unfortunately, the end of out trimester is in two days. The time to procrastinate has gone and I’ve been working on my AP Chemistry homework all day. Well, all day since I got home from church. There are three biggish things that I have to do, so I’ve prioritized them and whatnot, but now, eight hours later, I’m not even half-way done with the first thing on my list.

I have a whole host of lame excuses for not having it finished. One of those things is that I have a headache that my drugs didn’t take care of this time, which infuriates me just a little, along with not being able to sit up straight because my back hurts from sitting up straight upon request from my physical therapist. Because of this, I took a few hours to nap and then I tried to watch a documentary while I worked, but that didn’t pan out and now that I’ve napped, I’m super tired. I had to wake up earlier than normal this morning after having stayed out late  last night (role-playing a gnome, I might add).

Crap… this is getting too whiny… Now I shall make up something profound.

A lot of different people (teachers, parents) try to tell kids that they have to learn how to work while they’re young so that they’ll have a good work ethic when they grow up. Part of that ideal work ethic is the ability to do something that’s super hard even though you don’t want to do it.

I grew up in a pretty hard-working family. My parents volunteer us for every service project that hear about, which is fine most of the time. However, because of a few different factors (ones that I call genetic factors, just so I can blame stuff on my parents), lethargy is one of the things at the top of the list of things I struggle with the most. My grades in school haven’t always been the best, not because I don’t understand the material (though sometimes that is the case), but because I can’t seem to force myself to do the homework.

This is even worse than me trying to get up in the morning. I hate getting out of bed in the morning. In fact, I schedule fifteen extra minutes in the morning that I use to get myself out of bed. It’s kind of pathetic, but I am not a morning person and it could be worse. Fortunately, since I got into high school, I’ve become slightly better at forcing myself to do stuff. The key is to make yourself interested in the work you have to do. Whenever I have to write English papers or essays, I get myself really excited because it’s the one time that I can (sneakily) incorporate sarcasm into my school work (my AP Lit teacher would frown at me right now and insist that it’s actually just verbal irony and not sarcasm).

I could go on with this, but I’m writing this blog post so that I don’t have to do my Chemistry homework. I swear I’m interested in the stuff we’re learning, but I just don’t want to have to plug a bunch of different numbers into the same three equations all night long.

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Not counting, of course, Camp NaNoWriMo June 2011 or NaNoWriMo 2009 and the two novels that never made it past the first day. First of all, NaNo 2009 was my first and I wasn’t aware of anything other than I needed to write a novel. No goals, no planning, no motivation, so it’s not surprising that I abandoned it almost immediately. NaNoWriMo, in reality, is pretty awful. You have to trick yourself into it and continue tricking yourself until the end or you’ll never make it. You have to lie to yourself a lot, sometimes saying that it’s all about the word count or that plot holes don’t matter. I wasn’t smart enough to lie to myself that first year. CampNaNo in June 2011, I got a huge cold on the first day and then I had to go on tour with my high school orchestra. I pretty much maintain my speed throughout the month, so if I start out not writing anything, I lose all motivation.

Anyway, that isn’t what I want to talk about. Those months have nothing to do with my success months. This June 2012 was a success month, but it very nearly wasn’t. It didn’t start well. I didn’t make the word count for the first two days, but I picked up my act and made the minimum word count up until day 13. That’s perfectly acceptable, but it was looking more like the trends of my two failed months rather than my three successes. My first success saw my daily word count at 2k or higher every single day (I even wrote that NaNo novel with pencil and paper). I planned out the novel a month in advance and then I wrote according to the plan. Pretty straight-forward. The next success, the August after my failed June, saw me writing nearly 5k every day and finishing on day 12ish, though I think I was channeling my excitement about Pottermore into my writing and that helped. The November after that, I finished on day 14, with school every day and I even had a math class that trimester (not that math is particularly terrible, but I procrastinate like nobody’s business).

This June was nothing like that. My worst setback happened on day 14 when our family went camping. I even took a notebook with me so that I could write, which is a joke because I knew I wouldn’t do it. We left on a Wednesday and were supposed to come back on the Sunday after that, but of course I decided to visit some relative afterwards, not getting home until Monday with my older brother in tow. As nearly always happens when people come to visit me, I forget about all the things that I meant to do and instead end up eating far too much food and playing video games for hours. Plus, he brought the first three seasons of Castle on DVD with him and told me to watch them, so I did. Writing whilst watching Castle doesn’t work very well. At this point, I lost my motivation, though, after my brother left a few days later, I did get back to writing (though I was still watching Castle). Mostly, it was because I was very excited about the story-line and because I felt guilt. No surprise there.

Then, a lonely five days before the end of the month, I realized how behind I was and kind of panicked. Despite two more visits from relatives, one of them the last two days of the month, I decided that I was going to finish. Truthfully, I wanted to finish the story and if I didn’t finish in June, I would have had to let it spill over into my July and I really wanted to relax during July and maybe casually plan for August’s Camp, so I resolved to finish it in June.

This time, I only sat in the same room as the video games with my laptop on my lap and Castle playing in the background. Fortunately, I wasn’t really into the game my cousin and brother were playing, so it wasn’t hard to tune that out. I stayed up until 2am every morning except for my final day in which I woke up early and told myself that I could nap when I was finished.

My mistake was that I thought that I couldn’t write unless I started out fabulously. It nearly prevented me from winning, so don’t give up, NaNoers, even if you’re fifteen thousand words behind on the 25 day of the month.

The really stupid thing was the ending of season three of Castle. I can’t believe I almost lost Camp NaNo for it.

THIS is the prologue for the novel I’m writing for Camp NaNoWriMo this month. I’ll be writing the second half of the novel in August.

On the bank of a river, on a large stone, the silhouette of a man sits with a small pipe pressed against his lips. The sounds of the river, flowing past, dampen the pure notes that emanate from the little, wooden pipe, making them little more than a whisper.
The sun is sinking below the high mountains behind the man. He ignores the heartbreaking beauty that seeps out from the sun, through the trees, and is filling the sky. His eyes are closed.
A single sparrow floats down from the branch of a tree near the rock and lands on the ground at the boots of the man. The man’s eyes open. The music stops. The man smiles at the sparrow. He begins to play again, watching as the small bird hops up and down on the pebbly ground.
Out of the bushes behind the rock, a cat leaps silently, startling the sparrow into flight. The man lowers his pipe and tucks it into a cloth case that hangs from his shoulder like a sash. The cat jumps again, this time into the man’s lap. The man strokes the cat’s fur as it turns in circles and lays down.
“Ah, Wolfgang, at last.” The man says, leaning over to put his head nearer to the cat. The cat meows once and then begins licking its paws. The man looks around at the small overgrown path that leads away from the bank of the river. “A visitor?”
Moments later, a shape appears out of the trees and makes its way along the path. The figure, another man, stops in front of the man on the rock, who raises his eyebrows at the new arrival and then turns back to stare out at the river. He continues to stroke the cat’s fur.
“John.” The first man greets. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“There has been another call.” John answers in a low, slightly rough voice.
“Another? So many lately…”
“Yes.”
“And what is so special about this call? Can another not…”
“No.” John interrupts. “This case is… rather advanced.”
“Of course it would be.”
“We need the best.”
“And I am the best.”
“Yes.” The man sitting on the rock sighs and looks back up at John.
“Where am I off to this time?”
“A small town by the name of Hamelin.”

Banishment

As a sort of justification to the ranting that I am likely about to do,  I haven’t been able to sleep in on a Saturday morning for the last month or so. That’s the whole point of the weekend. I have school every other morning except for Sunday, but I still have to get up early to go to church. The only reason I don’t go insane during the week is because I know that I can at least sleep in on Saturday.

This morning at 6:20, my mother came into my room and woke me up (technically, her walking down the hallway to my room woke me up). Once again, she’d volunteered our family to go do some service project, which is fine, except for when it happens at 7:00 on a Saturday morning. It’s worth something to note that she could have woke me up at, like, 6:50, or something, which would have given me plenty of time to get ready if I had chosen to go, but she insists on everyone sitting around for hours before we actually need to go. She asked me if I was going (which she should stop, because she doesn’t usually give me a choice, but she implies that she does), to which I replied, angrily, that I wasn’t.

Five minutes later, she comes in again and asks me again. I give the same answer. Five minutes later my dad comes in and asks me why I am not going. I reply that I am sleeping. Yet another five minutes later, my mother comes into the room to tell me that my father has said that I am not allowed to get on my computer today if I don’t come. When I finally hear the back door slam closed, I am too much awake to go back to sleep. This puts me in a very fowl mood.

Surprisingly, the method of relaxation that I chose to combat this destructive-type mood was to do my math homework for an hour. Not surprisingly, I cannot understand how to do any of it even though I paid attention in class and took extensive notes. Also, half of the problems had angry looking fractions in them and reciprocals. I can deal with sine, cosine, and tangent, but secant, cosecant, and cotangent confuse me to no end.

My family got home around that time, but being the mature near-adult that I am, I decided not to speak to them. I then spent three more hours in my bedroom rearranging the posters and papers that are on my walls… I also colored… in a coloring book.

Either my mother forgot that I wasn’t allowed on my computer or she’s just too used to making idle threats (both, probably). Unfortunately, I’ve just wasted a half hour writing this blog post whilst I am supposed to be Script-Frenzy-ing (emphasis on the “Frenzy”). I’m sure I will finish if I can just knock out, like, twenty pages today… provided that I come up with something to happen next.

I Give Up

I give up on Blog Every Day in April. Not only because I missed the last four or whatever days, but because I will most likely miss the next however many days are left in April. I’m still not even halfway done with my Script Frenzy screenplay, so I’ll be writing ten pages every day for the next week in order to catch up/finish, plus I won’t get home on Tuesday until after nine o’clock in the evening. I’m riding a bus for many hours to go to the Orchestra Region Festival. If our orchestra doesn’t get to go to state (again), that will make us the only group in our high school’s arts department that didn’t go to state (not to mention probably the only organization at our school)(I swear all the sports teams go to state or take state or whatever it is that sports teams do).

I would like to feel confident, but the I felt confident at the region solos and ensambles festival and our quartet got such a bad score that I’m amazed we didn’t just jump off of a mountain or something.  Our director keeps telling us about orchestra that have dropped out of the regions festival or teachers who told her that their schools are struggling in an attempt to make us feel like we have a chance of going to state, but then we keep hearing that sometimes no one in the region festival qualifies for state, so that’s incredibly encouraging.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong and we could do fantastic, but I don’t really want to get my hopes up. I’m all itchy from encountering everything I am allergic to this weekend and I’m not in the mood to be hopeful. Also, my computer froze up for about an hour earlier, so I unplugged it and carried it around for a while claiming that I was going to put it in time-out, but all I really ended up doing was opening the case and blowing giant clouds of dust up into the air, which I then breathed in (probably due to my massive intelligence) and then complaining that there was no space for more RAM.

In bringing this blog post back to the beginning (a circle… glorious), if my computer refuses to cooperate whilst I am trying to catch up on Script Frenzy, then I likely won’t catch up and that will be really embarrassing because I’ve never failed Script Frenzy before (never in all of the one time that I did it). Of course, I’ve failed NaNoWriMo several times, so that’s not really a big deal. The next time I do NaNoWriMo, though, I’m not telling anyone that I am doing it so that it will be less pitiful when I do fail. Then again, maybe I’ll write something fabulous and everyone will be wildly jealous of my incredible skill and beauty.

Gosh, this blog post reminds me of my A to Z portfolio project thing that I had to do for US History. Toward the middle of the alphabet when I had to write my miniature reports on M and N and so forth, I got really tired of writing reports and I got a little bit sarcastic (who am I kidding? I got a lot sarcastic). It wasn’t anything to lose me points, but I started saying things like, “And then so-and-so decided to go and start this organization because, apparently, he was really smart and the public was absolutely thrilled with him, being the mindless sheep that they were. Then he went to jail because he was a moron and decided to break the law. It served him right”. As you can see, I’m kind of great at making things up, but our US History teacher is just a student-teacher still going to college and he wears a bowtie every Friday, so I can’t imagine that my AMAZING writing skills will go unappreciated, though he absolutely does NOT think that my red-hair jokes are funny. He hates his red hair, which is understandable because sometimes he looks sort of like a clown, but really, he should just start dressing like an Irish-man and get over it.

There are times (such as now) when I think that I should really stop aspiring to be a writer so as to avoid inflicting so much boredom on my readers, but I really cannot help it… I am sorry.

Due to my relative brilliance (joke), my To-Do list is topped with seven mini-reports to be written before tomorrow. Reports are never really that hard, but they do take time. The original assignment was for thirteen mini-reports, but I finished six of them yesterday. The problem is that I procrastinate like crazy and then I spend hours doing it the night before, but I don’t hate it and nothing “bad” ever happens to me because of it. I actually enjoy doing most work, so it’s not like I hate spending hours doing something in a rush, but it’s such a bad habit…

Oh, and it’s DEFINITELY not becoming a trend to blog about procrastination instead of doing something I should be doing. That would be stupid of me.

I read this article recently… well, I read most of it. It is a very thorough article.

I like the idea of not talking about the things that are the most important to you. Admittedly, I do understand why people say that you should tell the people that you love that you love them because if they don’t know, they might wonder and then someone might die and it’s also nice to know, but there are some things I definitely don’t talk about much either because I don’t understand how to or because I avoid sentiment wherever possible. I swear, if humans could communicate via emotions, half of our problems would suddenly become solvable. Some things just sound stupid when you try to talk about them because usually the only phrases or words that you can find to express things are cliches and very annoying. I find cliches meaningless, even though they really aren’t and even though it’s nearly impossible to explain things without phrases loaded with connotation. Language is imprecise and not at all user friendly, in my opinion, and I’m a sort of word-inclined person. Music is a little better because tone is more flexible, but it’s too easy to misread or misunderstand the message, if indeed there even is one. This is why people have a hard time communicating. At least when it comes to important things. Humans are EXCELLENT at communication when it comes to unimportant things. This is why I think teenagers talk so much. They haven’t really matured for long enough to find something really important to not communicate about, but they feel that insatiable need to communicate, so they just communicate about everything. So, conclusion number one, humans are usually just awful. Conclusion number two, even having realized this, I am unlikely to discontinue my journey toward the perfect communication of at least one, small thing. That’s why novelists write such huge books. We know that it’s unlikely that we’ll portray much meaning, so we write a lot in the hope that at least one small thing will get across.

BEDA/Headaches/Writing

BEDA stands for “Blog Every Day in April”. Technically it would work for August, but August is CampNaNoWriMo and April is only Script Frenzy. Writing a screenplay in a month is much easier than writing a novel in a month, so I do BEDA in April seeing as I’m spending all of my free time typing anyway.

This morning, at exactly 4:44 (because I notice such things), I woke up with a kind of largish headache. After taking some drugs (like a boss), I got to lay in bed for a half of an hour as my headache slowly subsided. Very. Slowly.

Also, it’s my half birthday today. My half birthday is Jesus’ real birthday, so that’s pretty awesome, I guess.

Ooh, so, I wrote this short story thing for my friend for her birthday back in… I don’t remember which month. Anyway, I entered it into the Scholastic Art and Writing contest and got “honorable mention”. I just got my certificate in the mail. Now I can hang it on the wall with every other honorable mention I have. Literally, the only contest thing I’ve ever entered into and not won the honorable mention award was the fifth grade science fair, which I won first place in. Oh, and the jump-rope competition. I got fourth place, which is almost like an honorable mention. When I sent in my short story, I also sent in the first novel that I wrote, but I don’t get to know what if I even get honorable mention until May. Probably not, seeing as that novel is the worst (and best) thing I ever wrote. It might get better when I revise it, but when I sent it in, I didn’t really revise it all that much…

Procrastination, Part Two

Around this time last year, my friend, Leslie, and I decided that for the 2011-2012 school year, we were going to take AP Literature. Having been in a few English classes together previous to this time, we decided we were tired of the ridiculous people in normal English classes and the stupid things that we kept learning year to year. The idea was that we would stop being so bored in English class because AP Literature is supposed to be hard (it’s a college-level class). Anyway, we signed up for it, got our teacher signatures and whatnot.

Fortunately, we have our AP Lit classes during the same period all year, so we won’t go nearly as insane as we could have. The problem with AP Literature is that it’s almost as ridiculously tedious as a normal English class except for that more work is involved and that work is more thorough, but not necessarily more difficult. Our current problem in AP Lit, is that we have been reading Hamlet, which isn’t boring, but the teacher does her best to make it as boring as possible. We have to take notes and such and write about things during the whole thing, so we can’t really enjoy it. 

We started Hamlet about a week and a half before Christmas and we’ve finished it, now, about a month later. During that time that we were supposed to be taking notes and a bunch of other things, Leslie and I have sort of been slacking off (Leslie actually took notes, while I did… nothing). All of the unit stuff we were supposed to do is now due in two days. One month of work that I haven’t done very much of. Granted, I took about an hour and a half a few days ago and wrote down my minimum requirement of notes.

In order to remedy this, Leslie and I are taking advantage of our school-free day tomorrow and having… a BBC Robinhood marathon! The idea is that we finish all of our work while we’re watching. The sad thing isn’t really that we have a months worth of work to get done and it’s not that we’re going to sit in Leslie’s basement all day watching a television show, but that we have planned our time in such a way that we’ll be able to accomplish everything we need to do in one day. Aren’t college classes supposed to be harder than this? We are minimizing the time it is going to take us to do this into 1/30th of what it was supposed to be. We also find it ridiculous that our teacher wouldn’t let us watch the version of Hamlet starring David Tennant. Lame. 

This blog post idea came to be because this month I was supposed to be writing a novel in a month again, but I procrastinated because there were people I had to entertain, so… yeah. I have several ideas on how to eliminate procrastinating. I’m sure that some of them are just fanciful thoughts, but maybe they’ll work for someone…. or not… whatever….

1) If the reason for the procrastination is the fear of failure, preparation is very important. The only reason I finished NaNoWriMo 2010 was because of preparation (I’m sure there is a post about that on this blog somewhere if you really want to hear me ramble about it). The point is to make success so inevitable that you don’t have an excuse not to do it. Of course if it’s not something you want to do, then no amount of preparation is going to help you out, which leads us to,
2) Make sure it’s something you really want to do. If it’s just something that you have to do, then fear of failure is probably not your problem. The problem is that you don’t want to do it, so your brain is making up every excuse imaginable to not have to. There’s always the age old, “just do it” theory, but I know that that rarely works unless I can startle myself. Such as, your mom tells you to do something. Instead of thinking about doing it, just let that instinct of obedience kick in and do it before you realize that you don’t want to. If you have time to think about it, then…
3) Try to make it worth it. Think of EVERY possible reward (big or small, obvious or subtle) you could think of for doing it. Make a list, if you must! Or make up rewards for yourself if you finish. Don’t make them lame rewards like candy, because I’d crumble and just eat the candy… Make even as simple as bragging rights. If I had failed NaNoWriMo 2010 (like I failed 2009) most people wouldn’t even know that I’d tried, because one of the rewards that I’d made for myself was that if I finished I could go out and tell anyone and everyone and that I’d finally have an answer to the question “What is your biggest accomplishment thus far in life?”. Bragging might be a little prideful, but if you have something to be legitimately proud of, then why not?
4) I read/heard somewhere about reading scriptures (I am a Mormon, just so people aren’t extremely confused) that if you had a problem with reading them because you kept getting distracted by other more interesting books (not that the scriptures aren’t interesting, it just takes more work from you for them to be interesting and people [a.k.a. me] are super lazy), you should put your scriptures on top of the more interesting book and make the deal with yourself that if you read a certain amount, you can put them down and read what you really wanted to. This could (probably… maybe?) work on other things as well.
Such as with my current WIP (Work In Progress, for those of you who don’t know), what I did was keep the Word document that contained it open at all times. I love multi-tasking and I love being able to have multiple tabs/windows open at a time, but subconsciously it really bugs me to have a lot of things open, so when I do, it’s almost a game to me. I work as quickly and as efficiently as possible so as to eliminate the clutter, so seeing that Word document open all the time REALLY bugged me. It wasn’t so much that I would write because I was trying to finish so that I could close the window, but it served as a reminder that I had something I needed to be working on. Granted, this idea didn’t work as well as I would have liked it to, but I did get more written that I would have if I hadn’t left it open. The way I reminded myself to open it up again every time I turned off my computer was that I put the document shortcut in the middle of my desktop (this works because I keep all of my folders around the outside of the desktop because I like to see the desktop background… the little Word document in the middle of my lovely picture drove me to insanity)
Another example would be a certain Seminary teacher that I know. This certain teacher is currently in the process of reading my NaNoWriMo 2010 monstrosity. Just to give you an idea of the scale of the procrastination; the book is roughly 175 pages long (with BIG words, so…)(this wouldn’t have cut it for a seventh grade book report) and it’s super easy to read (believe me, I know, I wrote it). This teacher has had this book since about the second half of April, about two and a half months. He is on page eleven. Of course, he is an adult with a job and a family (and religious duties) so I suppose he has a fairly good excuse (in other words, I’m not writing this in judgment, just trying to be helpful).
This teacher is probably intelligent to come up with his own way of doing things, but my suggestion would be: DO NOT LEAVE IT OVER ON THAT TABLE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROOM. I’m sure that stack of books over there is a very important stack of books, but you aren’t going to remember to read it if it’s not somewhere you can see it (or reach it, for that matter). Like I did with my WIP, just start carrying it around with you. Even if you don’t have time for it, it’ll either drive you mad that you are carrying around that useless lump, or it’ll make you feel guilty that you haven’t gotten anywhere with it. One of two things will (probably) happen; one, you will get used to having it there and begin to ignore it (like I’ve begun to do with my open WIP Word document) or, two, you will finally get so fed up with having it there that you’ll just finish it in, like, an hour and then you can give it back and pretend that it never existed.
SO, anyway, if you have something that you should be doing or you want to be doing, but you can’t seem to get over your procrastinative <—(That’s not actually a word…) nature, make that thing a constant presence in your life and then maybe you’ll be able to get it done. Plus, making a book you have to read (or one you have to write) follow you around everywhere can be amusing… until it gets annoying, which is kind of the point.
In closing, I’m actually impressed with myself that I was actually able to write a blog post with getting off subject, so… that’s fun. Considering that I’m writing this blog post because I’m procrastinating writing my WIP, I think it turned out well.
P.S. Brother Mickelson,
I’m kidding. :P