Monday, June 18, 2012

Scarlett O'Hara Syndrome


You may be asking, what is Scarlett O'Hara Syndrome.  There's a simple answer to that.

"I won't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow." 

Back in January of this year, I declared each Monday to be Motivational Monday here on the blog.  The reason was that I'd been procrastinating about all kinds of things, but mostly about things that needed to be done--some desperately needing to be done-- that I'd kept putting off.

I've been working on that problem and although I'd love to say I have it solved, that would be a lie.  Still, I've made some progress.  Most of the time, anyway.

If we tend to put many things off until later, it's probably a habit we formed long ago.  It can be changed, but it takes some work...which probably brings another round of procrastinating.  Definitely a vicious circle.  But it can be better, and a round of seeing a shrink isn't necessarily needed.  Sometimes it's best to just do than to study why it isn't done.

A friend and fellow writers group member blogged at Bits & Bytes on Thursday about her own procrastination. Because I'd been putting off the need to get some words on paper or work on revisions or do a few other things, her post was a painful reminder that I sometimes have that P word problem, too.  Let's face it.  At one time or another, we each will put off what needs to be done the most.

When it comes to writers, when procrastination becomes a normal part of the writing life, there's a chance it's because of one of two reasons:  Fear of Failure or Fear of Success.

Only the procrastinating writer can decided which fear has gained the power to immobilize.  And trying to determine it could end up being yet another tool in avoidance.  So what's a procrastinator to do?  Especially a writer with dreams of being published or a published writer who has fallen into a writing slump?

Here are a few suggestions to try that might break the stagnation and kick start some forward movement.

  • Stop beating yourself up.  You can make a change.  
  • Stop complaining and whining (yes, we all do it), and form a plan.
  • Make a fresh start.  There's nothing we can do to change what we did or didn't do in the past, so leave it behind.
  • Set a goal.  Don't sabotage yourself before you begin, so make it small and attainable to begin with.  If your writing has become non-existent or almost non-existent, and you want to change that, set a weekly page or word count goal.  Keep it small.
  • Make a new habit.  A GOOD one. ☺  Get up an hour early and devote it to writing or whatever it is you need to do.  Turn off the television for an hour or two in the evening.  If you're a writer, take a pad and pen or a laptop computer and go to a library or coffee shop or even to a park and write.  I've found that my morning walk clears the cobwebs from my brain and gets it working, so that by the time I'm  home again, I have an idea of what I'll be writing.
  • Give yourself little rewards whenever you reach a goal.

  • Ask a friend to help keep you on track.  Even if the two of you don't share the same goal, you can still  support and encourage each other.
  • Find others who are dealing with or have dealt with the same problem and brainstorm some ideas that might help.
  • Challenge someone who struggles with the same thing you do.  Remember that it's not who does it best, but that each of you are DOING.
Sometimes there's only one way and that's the Nike way.  "Just Do It"  We can make excuses until the end of time, but if we really want something, we have to take that first step.  After that, the road ahead doesn't look quite as daunting.

If procrastination is something you deal with and you find yourself going nowhere, or if you have some ideas that may help others, please feel free to share them here!

Thank you to Tammy, Reese, Pat, and Debo for the inspiration for this post, their always super ideas, and their friendship.

In the end of GWTW, the real Scarlett--- the strong, independent woman, who never let anyone or anything get her down---gives us all hope.
"Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day." - Scarlett O'Hara, the last lines of Gone With the Wind

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