Archive for » January, 2012 «

A Yak By Any Other Name

So let’s talk about procrastination. As in, I wanted to have this blog up by January 1st, but wound up not getting it done until three weeks later. As in, being easily distracted by shiny things, or even not-so-shiny things. As in, finding absolutely anything to do except what I should be doing, thereby putting even more pressure on myself to get things done.

YakI call this yak shaving. You have a pressing deadline and need to work. You clear off your chair so you can sit at your desk. Then you need to clear off the desk so you can find the keyboard. But as you’re sitting there sorting through a month’s worth of catalogs and bills (oops!), you realize that your desk chair is uncomfortable, so you decide that you can’t work until you have a cushion for the chair. You spend a day searching the web for a cushion, but none of them appeal. So you decide to make your own. Then you spend a day finding a pattern. And then another shopping for fabric. Then make the cover for the cushion. But everyone knows the best filler is yak hair. Next thing you know, you’re on a plane to parts unknown to shave a yak. All so you can have a cushion for your chair so you can get your work done.

Yup, that’s me. And no matter how cute the yak, it’s just a euphemism for procrastination. Which itself is usually, at least in my case, a euphemism for fear. I’m tired of being afraid. I’m tired of losing sleep over pending deadlines, which just increase the fear, the tension… and the stress eating. So one of my goals for this year is to look my yaks in the eye and get a grip on my procrastination.

In Revision

As a writer, I’m used to revising my manuscripts. My work is never perfect, so I play with scenes, rethink my characters’ reactions and tweak my plot — often to excess (at least in the opinions of my critique partners). In other words, I put a lot of care and thought into my books.

But in giving all that attention to my work, I often overlook myself as both a writer and a person. I don’t exercise enough — those are precious minutes that can be used for writing. I don’t eat properly — who wants to take time to make something healthy when it’s so much faster to grab junk. I take friends and family for granted in favor of spending more time with the people inside my head who are counting on me to tell their stories. I get so caught up in the mundane routines of working and taking care of my family that I overlook the need to refill the creative well by getting out and experiencing life and interacting with people. And oh, the procrastination! Much as I tell myself and others that all those games of solitaire serves as “thinking time” for my books, it’s really a fear reaction to avoid putting words on the page.

So the focus of my blog this year is on revising not just my work but revising Me. My body, my writing routines, my productivity, my relationships with friends and family. Everything is up for grabs. And to keep me honest and not let this become just another broken New Year’s resolution, I’m going to blog about it. I hope you’ll join me and share the journey!


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