Tool 41 ~ Turn procrastination into rehearsal.

“Plan and write it first in your head.”

Ever heard of a daybook? I kind of like the idea. It’s a little book used to jot down all those great, random quips floating around in my head. I need to make myself one. Maybe I’ll go looking for a leather jacket to cut up. It would make a perfectly great notebook cover. Yes.

This chapter is one of my favorite chapters from Writing Tools. It gives hands on examples and is very positive.

Clark asks, “What if we found a new name for procrastination? What if we called it rehearsal?” 

There is a Zen-like quality to such wisdom: The writer mus not write in order to write. To write quickly, you must write slowly. To write with your hands, you must write in your head.” Go figure.

It actually makes me laugh because it is exactly what I do. I mumble around the room, chatter up and down my word document about anything besides what I am supposed to be writing, and then for a change eat chocolate and salty bags of chips–neither of which are good for me.

So instead of procrastinating, let’s rehearse.

Instead of fighting with writer’s block, let’s lower our standards and just write (one can always redraft later).

And I know this entry is really long already, but these are the greatest strategies, so they are going down:

1. Trust your hands — just write.

2. Adopt a daily routine — this is what I need to do. “The key is to write rather than wait.”

3. Build in rewards — yes, acknowledge that you are a five-year-old and you need candy at the end of the tunnel too.

4. Draft sooner — hint! Hint! Hint! Perfect advice for college students. I honestly should remember this. If I can spit out the rough draft part, I am officially good to go. It is the brain-smashing, getting my thoughts out on paper the first time, that is the most challenging.

5. Discount nothing — “Some days you will write many poor words. Other days you’ll write a few good words. The poor words may be the necessary path to the good words” (203).

6. Rewrite — so now that you have dumped everything onto the paper, now you have the opportunity to revise.

7. Watch your language — in psychology, I think this is called something like, “brain-talk” or “speak-talk” or something like that. Basically, stop beating yourself up. You’re not procrastinating, and your writing does not suck. Rehearse, prepare and plan . . . and write!

8. Set the table — Whenever I can’t think or I feel like I am in a cyclone, I’ll run around my college dorm room and pick everything up. It’s like a magical event where I clean the surface of my brain by cleaning the surface of my room. Answer the emails, throw away the papers, fold your clothes and put them away, water the plants, and then sit down to write. “Prepare the altar for the next day of writing” (203).

9. Find a rabbi — I appreciate Clark’s religious connections (like “prepare the altar” for the last strategy) because I think I can understand them better. As a Christ-follower, I know what an altar is and I understand a “rabbi” from the New Testament. The symbolism is stronger for me . . . basically, what this is saying, is find a “helper who loves us without condition, someone who praises us for our productivity and effort, and not the quality of the final work. Too much criticism weighs a writer down.” I would say in my life right now, it’s definitely my Mom, and for this semester, Mrs. Hayes. Great professor.

10. Keep a daybook — So we are back to a daybook, and guess what? I don’t have one. For real. It’s almost shameful. I always have paper on me because I am always writing something down, something funny, a quote, something. But sometimes it is just the restaurant’s napkin, and I don’t think that really counts. Those get thrown out too quickly.

Next on my to do list: make a daybook (Notice the “make” verb. This is what happens when one is a college student who would really like to not spend money). Yes.

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