Why do now what you can put off to the last minute?

I was one of those annoying students who would put things off to the last minute, yet aced them anyway when it came to writing. Chemistry, not so much, but writing, oh, I could procrastinate that to the night before! One particularly brilliant example was my junior year of college. Now, I went to a fairly small liberal arts school, but there were some real gems in our English department.  I was taking a class that centered around the craft of memoir, and our big project was a 25 page or more memoir of our own. The rough draft was due about a month prior to finals, to be graded based on progress, and basically to make sure you did something.  I wrote all 25 pages we needed to turn in over the course of about 6 hours the day before it was due, submitted it to the professor through the online tool we used, and figured that it was meh, but workable as a rough draft.

Come the next class, he pulls me aside really quickly beforehand, and asks if he may use mine as an example, because I nailed the kind of narrative exposition he was really looking for on these projects better than anyone else. I laughed, and agreed, because why not? When asked in class how I’d learned that style, I admitted that I blogged via a journal site, and so telling stories via the focused narrative was nothing new to me. He made the mistake, however, of then asking how long it took.

For a moment, I considered lying and saying I’d been working on it since the assignment was given out. I knew that was more the sort of answer that was expected. At least a week, would have been pushing it even.

I couldn’t resist telling the truth. If looks could have killed, my classmates would have murdered me on the spot.

The professor was utterly flummoxed, and looked at me like I’d just told him there was a pot of gold at the end of the skittles rainbow, and that it was landing in his backyard. When he finally managed to pick his jaw up off the floor, he said, “Follow her example on the writing, not the procrastination.”

I know I can write well quickly, especially if I have a plan of attack, or at least a flow I can follow start to finish. Yet with my own fiction, it’s so hard to find those deadlines. Even things like Nanowrimo end up lacking, once you’ve done them too long. While the community pressure is great, if you slip out of the community too much, it’s easy to let that pressure slip too.

Sometimes, you get to a point, where you have to find your own deadlines, and make yourself responsible for them. Things like #pitchmadness and #writemotivation are oddly helpful for me, because I see things I enjoy, and things I don’t, and the ones that I don’t enjoy are pushing me to get my own writing into shape. There were 6 total in #pitchmadness that I was dying to read, 1 of which was KT’s, which I’ve been reading and editing, another of which was Becca’s, which I did get to read some of, and will get to read the rest eventually. The other 4, I couldn’t track down their owners, as they were given just numbers.  (If you’re B7, B14, S12, or C13 on #pitchmadness, I WANT TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE! Because I want to read your book!!!)

What motivates you? Deadlines? Seeing other’s succeed? Seeing things you don’t like? What makes you put the words on the page?

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5 Comments

  1. K.T. Hanna said,

    March 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    What makes me write? OCD. I get the story, outline it, plot it out in detail – and if I don’t put it down on paper, I’ll implode/explode or something.

    Also – seeing pet hates in other people’s writing makes me want to make sure I write my own work without them.

    And you 😛 You and Em help too!

    • Leigh Caroline said,

      March 17, 2012 at 7:12 pm

      *Grins* Yeah, you are REALLY OCD. And I don’t think you’d explode. Word-vomit maybe, but not explode! 😛
      Gee, what pet hates? Do tell! 😛 Just kidding!!
      Aww ❤

  2. March 17, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    You know, I got married half way through my junior year. I changed my major 3 times before that. I finally settled on English with a Writing Concentration (basically, journalism with a splash of creativity). My senior year, I wanted to be done with school (should have stayed in) and took a double load-all English classes. Imagine procrastinating that! I actually did! LOL I had a paper due every day almost. And still managed a 3.57 GPA…should have tried harder 🙂 I’ve always procrastinated and never studied. If I had focused, I could have had better grades! Ugh!

    Over the course of my life, I’ve grown wiser. I’ve realized I work best under. Pressure…even if I don’t handle the stress well any more. But I need deadlines. I still have issues with self imposed deadlines, or trying to motivate myself. I just can’t do it. Or, I haven’t figured out how to master it. Take your pick. I suck at making myself do anything.

    That is why I like surrounding myself with others who will push me, motivate me, and inspire me. Without it, I don’t think I would be where I am today with my writing. If it weren’t for KT’s inspiration and motivation, I would still be cowering in the dark, afraid of the big bad novel under my bed. 🙂

    • Leigh Caroline said,

      March 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm

      *chuckles* I understand. I started pre-med, then just plain biology with a minor in music, then minor in English, and ended up with a major in English and minor in biology because organic chem KICKED my butt so hard that it wasn’t even funny! My last semseter, I took 4 English classes, a psychology class, a history class, choir, and I was working 20+ hours a week. It was also the only semester I made the deans list!

      And isn’t she wonderful for that? I’d probably have quit writing 20 times over if it weren’t for her!!

  3. March 18, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    My senior year in high school I had to put together a poetry portfolio for my creative writing class. I totally wrote the last like 5 poems, hunted down all the artwork, and formatted the full portfolio the night before. Granted I went to bed at like 4 in the morning, but strangely I knew that even with the stress the final product was better than something I’d thought about for too long (like the teacher expected). Half of my poetry in my college poetry class was written very last minute too!

    Like you, I work much better under pressure. NaNo, writemotivation, these types of things get me focused. And when I’m not doing those things, I find writing contests help me too. They give me a deadline. The force me to either create new work or properly edit something I’ve already done. So even if I don’t win the contest, I still sort of win when it comes to getting myself to work on my writing.

    I’m now trying to learn how to give myself self-imposed deadlines. I can’t rely on contests and mass-motivation techniques all the time, though they do offer quite the nice little boost now and then. I’m wanting to take writing seriously, so I’ve got to learn how to go about writing seriously instead of as a hobby. =) That’s part of the fun though with writing. Learning! There’s so much to learn!


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