Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Please welcome my guest today, Marie Tuhart.

Hi Everyone, I'm so happy to be here at Terry's Place. I'm Marie Tuhart, and today my topic is about procrastination. Let's not be procrastinators, read the post now.

Why do we procrastinate?

Is it because the job itself seems too overwhelming? Or too hard? Or we don't know where to start? All of these are possible, and by procrastinating we cause ourselves to be stressed, feel guilty and we become less productive.

Causes of procrastination: Many times we underestimate or overestimate the task itself. Perfectionism can cause procrastination. Feeling too busy. Being told you're lazy or the fear of failure are also common.

Each times we let ourselves procrastinate; we reinforce the ability to do it. So I'm going to give you some tips to help you not to fall into the procrastination trap.

A common myth around writing is you have to have large chunks of time to write. This is untrue. What I've learned to do is to write in smaller chunks of time. I write for 30 minutes while dinner is cooking in the over, the 15 minutes I'm waiting in the doctor's office, during my lunch hour at work, during commercials of a T.V. show. Writing in these smaller chunks of time showed me I could make progress.

Try it, you'll be amazed not only how much you can accomplish, but your productivity will go up.

If the project feels too big and you're feeling overwhelmed by the task, again break it down into smaller chunks. I've done this while tackling cleaning out my basement (that hadn't been cleaned in about 20 years) to my writing.

I used to have a daily goal that I would write so many pages in a day, and each day I kept losing ground. To me the amount of pages wasn't all the big, usually 5-10 pages per day, but I found most days I fought against writing. Finally I stopped with the page count and started to use a word count. I started off with 1,500 words a day, that's roughly 5 pages.

Once I did that, I'd write at least 1,500 words a day, and most days I'd write even more. I had a mental block on writing pages, but if I broke it down into words, I was able to accept that better.

Break it down into what every works for you, you can say I'll write a scene, or I'll do the character sketch today, whatever. They key is to write.

For myself, the more I write, the more I want to write, and my productivity has increased because of that.

Other tricks you can use:

Talk with your writing group/critique group about why you're having problems writing. It could be the project itself and you might want to try something else. Often others can see what we can't.

Turn off the computer screen; you can't see what you've written so you're less likely to hit the delete key. While you might have some creative typos, it's amazing how it frees to just type without worrying about the blank page.

Figure out where your time goes. Track what you're doing every day, for at least a week, and I mean everything. This will show you where your time is going, where there gaps in your schedule and even show you where you can dedicate some time to writing.

Be realistic about the how long a writing project will take you. If you're writing 120,000 word historical novel, you work full-time, have a spouse, two kids, a dog and fish and you've only given yourself a month to write this book, that isn't realistic – unless you can go without sleep for an entire month.

This is where breaking down the project comes in handy; you can break it down into how many words you need to do a day to have the project finished in a certain amount of time. But it has to be realistic time frame.

You can break out of the procrastination habit, you may not totally conquer it, as it does creep back from time to time, but you'll be able to starve it off longer and longer.

Marie Tuhart writes contemporary erotic romance. Her first book In Plain Sight is available from The Wild Rose Press. You can find out more about Marie and her writing at her website: www.marietuhart.com or visit her blog: www.escapetoaneroticfantasy.blogspot.com


Procrastinating Pro Marv said...

Loved this post. True enough, each time we procrastinate, we reinforce our bad habit. And good tips here on how to break the bad habit - nice job.

The Old Silly

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

These are things that I *know*...but I need to act on. And it helps tremendously to read your tips, refresh my memory, and attack my manuscript! Thanks Marie and Terry!

Mystery Writing is Murder

darkangelauthor said...

Oh, yes, that time-stealing monster...procrastination! It seems I'm doing constant battle with it at my house...I've just embarked on goal-setting as a weapon...wish me luck! :)


Terry said...

Good tips, Marie. Thanks. I'm going to take your advice and track what I do all day. Hope I'm not too horrified by how much time I squander. (other Terry)

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Mary, Elizabeth, and Linda;

Thanks for stopping by. I'm happy my post can be of some help.

Wynter Daniels said...

Some great advice - thanks. I need to track my time and see where it all goes.

Sloane Taylor said...

Marie, are you looking in my office window? LOL. Your suggestions are excellent. Today I vow to use Marie's Time Chunk Method. Thanks!

Mason Canyon said...

I am the worst at procrastination or the best depending on how you look at it. You gave some good tips that can be helpful in all things we do. I've got to keep better track of my time. Thanks.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Other Terry :),

Tracking what you do all day helps me figure out where my time is going. And if I'm spending too much time on one item (like email).

Good luck

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Wynter,

Give tracking a time a try and see what happens. You'd be surprised where it goes.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Sloane,

Glad you could stop by. Marie's Time Chunk Method, I like that LOL.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Mason,

I can procrastinate with the best. I fight against it every day. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm a champion procrastinator, but I've recently taken on way more projects than is sensible, leaving me no time to procrastinate. I'm not sure I'd recommend this as a cure, however. It's a tiny bit stressful. :)

Lara Dien said...

Yesterday I finally did something I'd been putting off (with myriad reasons) for years--I went climbing at a local rock-climbing gym. It must be said I did not get very far up the wall--turned out there was a school holiday in the same county, the place was crowded, and the wall I'd chosen had a lovely bare patch in the middle I'm neither limber or experienced enough to figure out a way around -- and to get on another route was going to be a long wait, but I did do it, and I did get (literally) in (or up) over my head, so I consider it a success. Plus, I think I found a new passion, and will be going back.

The root of why I put it off? Simply fear. Fear of heights (turned out not to be a problem--I've been more frightened on shorter ladders, so go figure), fear of looking like an idiot, fear of simply not being able to do it.

I suspect those are the cause of 99.9% of our procrastination, with the first one taking various forms that boil down to fear of the unknown--of not wanting to step out of our comfort zone and do something that might get us hurt (physically, I mean). Putting off getting the writing done? Fear that it won't look the same on paper as in our heads, perhaps--and there's the 'looking like an idiot' combined with 'not being able to do it.' I think it applies even to things like cleaning out the garage ... because if we leave it as is, it's possible to pretend we meant to do it that way. Put off something long enough, and to do it you have to admit you were wrong the first time.

Okay, I'm done psychoanalyzing myself. Back to my vacation....

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Patricia,

I agree with you taking on more project is not a cure, and it can lead to you to procrastinate due to the stress. Hopefully you'll have them done soon without too much trouble.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Lara,

Great story. Congrats on the rock climbing adventure.

Have a great vacation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie and Terry,

This is the kind of post I need to print and keep in my writing binder! Marie, you're an awesome motivator! :-)

Congrats on your debut, In Plain Sight, the cover is so hot and the story is super sexy!


Yasmine Phoenix said...

Thanks Marie. Procrastination is one of the worst habits a writer can have and the easiest. There are days when cleaning the kitchen appeals more than writing. You use word count, I count time, 55 minute sessions. The first week it took the longest time for 2 minutes to pass, six weeks later that darned timer goes off way too quick. You do make an important point to be aware of how you procrastinate and suggestions on how to conquer it. Thanks and congratulations on proving how little time to write can add up to a published book

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Isabel,

Thanks for the comments, and I'm so glad you like the cover of In Plain Sight.

Marie Tuhart said...

Hi Yasmine,

It is amazing how quickly that time passes once we've set ourselves a schedule. And those 5-10 minutes add up over the week.

Terry Odell said...

Marie - thanks so much for being my guest. I suppose I should get back to working on garage sale prep--but I'd rather watch the Olympics.

And thanks to everyone for dropping by and leaving comments.

Sheila Deeth said...

Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm procrastinating or just clearing space on my desk. Nice post though, and comforting to know it's okay that most of my writing's done in short bursts. Thanks.

Marie Tuhart said...


Thanks for stopping by, clearing space on your desk is a good thing.

Marie Tuhart said...


My pleasure and thank you for having me as a guest. Good luck with your move.

lainey bancroft said...

Great tips, Marie. So true about how those 'stolen moments' to write can really add up. The best investment I ever made (actually a gift from my husband) was my Alphasmart. Fits perfectly in an oversize purse, and works in all different kinds of light conditions. Sometimes I've been away from the computer for days, feeling as though I had NO writing time, but when I transfer from the Alphasmart I discover I've managed pages and pages...some even salvageable. lol