Writing & Procrastination: 3 Steps For Getting Started

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This morning, I spent my reading time with Elizabeth Scalia, one of my favorite authors, devouring the opening pages of her new book Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bads Habits Before They Kick Us. I’ll save my full review of the book for when I finish it, but I had to just write a few words about the book’s opening chapter on the little sin of PROCRASTINATION.

Let me just say that Scalia had me nodding and highlighting from Page One of the introduction, but when I came across this little gem on Page 25 I was relatively sure my friend Lizzie had a spycam in my office!

Excerpt from "Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bads Habits Before They Kick Us" by Elizabeth Scalia

Excerpt from “Little Sins Mean a Lot: Kicking Our Bads Habits Before They Kick Us” by Elizabeth Scalia

I am a queen procrastinator. And just about the only time I have an urge to clean anything is when I’m operating on a deadline. So I’ve already learned much from Elizabeth’s first chapter that helps me identify the correlation between the “little sin” of procrastination and its cousin, the deadly sin of sloth.

little sinsSo to help myself next time I fall into this trap, I decided to pen the three “get started” steps I usually use to get myself moving:

  1. Offer my work as a prayer. I’m not meaning conceptually here. When I decide to actually begin, I formally consecrate my work as a prayer. Invoking God’s presence at the start of a big project makes my work process feel formalized. Intentionally offering the project with prayer also marks my cooperation as God’s instrument in the work he has lavished upon me. God is the author. I am the pen…
  2. Look at the smaller parts.  Wrapping your mind around writing 40,000 words when you can barely eek out 140 characters is a daunting task. As a result, I break my projects into chapters and then even smaller subsections within chapters. Much of my work (with the exception of Chime Travelers) is written out of chronological order. When the mind refuses to wrap itself around the whole, it’s easier to examine the small parts and to make more effective use of the little chunks of time that are scattered through my days.
  3. Find a fresh view from my office. Friends who follow me on social media know that I rarely work in my actual office. I’m on the road a lot. And even when I’m in my hometown, I often work in unusual places like my treehouse or laundry room (yes, seriously). For the start of a big writing project, I typically go to one of three work “offices” that fill me with a particular energy that’s needed to launch a new project. On an average day, if I’m feeling “blocked” in some way, finding a new “office” usually does the trick to bust the procrastination slump.

I can’t wait to learn more as I work my way through Little Sins Mean a LotIf you have struggled with procrastination and have come out victorious, I’d love to hear your tips and tricks in the combox below or on my Facebook page.

Copyright 2016 Lisa M. Hendey

Image credit: Lisa M. Hendey

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About Author

Lisa M. Hendey is the founder and editor of CatholicMom.com and the bestselling author of the Chime Travelers children's fiction series, The Grace of Yes, The Handbook for Catholic Moms and A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. As a board member and frequent host on KNXT Catholic Television, Lisa has produced and hosted multiple programs and has appeared on EWTN and CatholicTV. Hendey hosted “Catholic Moments” on Radio Maria and is the technology contributor for EWTN’s SonRise Morning Show. Lisa's articles have appeared in Catholic Digest, National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor. Hendey travels internationally giving workshops on faith, family, and Catholic technology and communications topics. She was selected as an Elizabeth Egan Journalism Fellow, attended the Vatican Bloggers Meeting, the “Bishops and Bloggers” meeting and has written internationally on the work of Catholic Relief Services and Unbound. Hendey lives with her family in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Visit Lisa at www.LisaHendey.com for information on her speaking schedule or to invite her to visit your group, parish or organization.

4 Comments

  1. I was going to begin revisions on a new picture book but I just had to check here first. Is it bad that I’m procrastination right now? LOL. Your review sold me. I really enjoy E. Scalia wit and wisdom.

    Of course, I also get ideas while I’m procrastinating so I’m not sure I want to give it up entirely.

    • What do they say about misery loving company??!! You’ll love the book – Elizabeth’s writing here is better than ever. I “hear” her reading it to me and it’s like spending good time with an honest friend. Now, happy writing!

  2. Thank you for such a relatable article, Lisa! I can’t believe that I didn’t even realize procrastination can be sinful but it totally makes sense since we’re putting off something God has entrusted us to carry out. I’m going to try writing in my laundry room! I get plenty of thinking done there so might as well try putting it on a page!

  3. Writers are procrastinators? Who knew? Just kidding – guilty as charged. St. Josemaria says the alarm clock is the first battle of the day: to get up as soon as it goes off, kiss the floor and proclaim “Serviam!” That is the first victory of the day. So, small sins are also opportunities for small victories, which the Lord loves so much!

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