Just Do Something by Stephanie Stamm

 

Steph_2 copy (2)I have a confession to make:  I procrastinate.

Not always. I usually write and schedule my blog posts a few days before the due date, and I do my best to finish work projects ahead of deadline. But when it comes to home repairs—or even my current novel—I put things off.

For example, just this week, I had an electrician come to replace a faulty light switch and the ugly, out-dated chandelier in my dining room. These tasks have been on the to-do list since I moved into the house—nine years ago. And it was only last fall that I had the front door rekeyed so that the key to the back door works for it too. Before then I couldn’t unlock my front door from the outside because I had no key.

Now, to my credit, none of these things required urgent action. Until recently, the light switch was only a minor annoyance. The out-dated chandelier was ugly, but it did its job. And being unable to unlock my front door wasn’t really a problem for me, since I use the back door all the time anyway. Once these items worked their way to the top of my to-do list, I took care of them.

But there was also the thing with the squirrels.

I first heard the scrabbling late last fall, and I knew what it meant. I had had squirrels removed from my soffit three years ago. I recognized the sound. Why, then, did it take me until January to pick up the phone and call Critter Control?

Grey_Gardens_Cover_BiggerIn part, I think, I was in denial. I wanted to believe the squirrels would go away if I ignored them. Plus, I was unsure of what to do to get rid of them. I didn’t want to use the service I’d used three years ago, and I didn’t know the best alternative. Finally, on some level, I was ashamed. I know it makes no sense, but some part of me felt like it was my fault that squirrels had gotten into my house again. So I didn’t want to admit it had happened. I kept remembering Grey Gardens and those raccoons staring out from behind the half-destroyed wall.

Squirrel Hole in Soffit

The most recent entrance hole in the soffit

Then, in January, when I was awakened by squirrels running around and rolling nuts somewhere above my bedroom ceiling, I knew I had to take action. I called Critter Control, and within a few days, the squirrels had been trapped and the holes repaired and sealed. Easy. So, when the critters came back again in March, I was on the phone the next day. They are tenacious, these squirrels. They had gnawed yet another hole. I’ve now had the walnut tree that was next to the house removed, eliminating both a source of food and a means of access. I hope that will take care of my issues with uninvited house guests.

One of the things I learned from all this is the importance of simply taking action. Often I procrastinate because I’m afraid of making the wrong decision, doing the wrong thing. I get overwhelmed by options, and I end up doing nothing. That compounds the problem, making me feel stuck and helpless. And you know what? As soon as I decide to do something, I feel better. Even if that initial action isn’t enough to solve the problem, I’ve at least moved things forward, and the next decision is easier.

The same is true of writing. Sometimes I get stuck and procrastinate because the potential options of where the story could go next seem overwhelming. As long as we stay within the constraints we have already set for our characters and our stories, our imaginations can take us anywhere. And I worry I will make the wrong decision about where to take a scene or the plot. But if I do, then I do. So what? We’ve all experienced writing a scene one day and then cutting it the next, after deciding it didn’t work, no matter how great it might have been. But the writing of that deleted scene, the doing, moves us forward. We eliminate one possibility and get a little closer to our goal.

So the next time you find yourself procrastinating or feeling stuck, just do something, anything. And that little burst of action will get you moving again.

When do you procrastinate? What kinds of things do you put off? And what finally spurs you to action?

 

Connect with Stephanie Stamm:

http://www.stephanieastamm.com

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Stephanie Stamm is the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy A Gift of Wings(She is working on the sequel.)

A Gift of Wings Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

She has also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover

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This entry was posted in advice, Productivity, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Just Do Something by Stephanie Stamm

  1. Guess who else is a procrastinator? (raises hand). Yes, it’s me. Although in the working world I was known for speedy decisions and taking action, since I’ve retired something has happened. I have time to do things. And I don’t. The birds at the bird feeder require another cup of morning coffee so I can watch them. That book that I started yesterday calls to me so I read. My brother sees me on Facebook and we chat. All the while my work and other important things pile up and my to do list flies out the window. Like you, I’m fearful of making the wrong decision. Now that I’m out of the hospital and on rest I’m getting caught up and it feels good. I used Cherley’s post to get myself a phpne app to keep track of what I need to do and when. Very helpful. I guess you’d call me a “recovering procrastinator”. Wish there were meetings for that! ha ha As to the squirrels, I know how pesky they can be. Last winter when we closed the camper we took everything out, winterized it and were done. When we returned this summer what a surprise we had. How we missed it I don’t know, but we left a bag of peanuts in a cupboard we rarely use except for peanuts from the squirrel feeder. So they came in and got their own. We have a cupboard full of peanuts and even found one in the bed! Serves us right for feeding them I suppose, but they’re so much fun to watch! Good luck with your procrastinating Stephanie. Just take one step at a time. That’s what I’m trying to do. Great post, by the way!

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    • sstamm625 says:

      Thanks, Linda. I like “recovering procrastinator.” I hope to be one! 🙂 I’ve heard of squirrels getting into campers. Some family members of a friend opened their camper in the spring to find all the cupboards filled with nuts!

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  2. Doris says:

    Oh my, have you been looking over my shoulder. I imagine a lot of folks will relate and you said it so well. Now to get to those dishes that have been bugging me for longer than I care to admit….along with the housework…sigh. Doris

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    • sstamm625 says:

      Yes, housework is one of the things I put off. But I take comfort in the wise words of a friend who said, “You know when I die I don’t think I’m going to be thinking, ‘Gee, I wish I’d spent more time cleaning my house.” 🙂

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  3. I do not procrastinate when it comes to household repairs. I do procrastinate when it comes to something I do not want to write because I do not have any idea of what to write. Good luck with all your projects.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  4. Wranglers says:

    Stephanie, this was fun and thoughtful. I try not to be a procrastinator. I’m a selective procrastinator, some things I put off even though I know I will feel better when I get it done. I really put off doing my bills. I hate paperwork. Linda, I’m so glad the app helped. Cher’ley

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  5. Wranglers says:

    I procrastinate too–and you hit it on the head when one of the reasons is fear of doing something wrong. Another reason in my writing is fear it won’t be good enough, so best not to try. And then I think I have an inherent laziness too! I also like to put good things last, and even tho I fear rejection, I love writing but I put it off for after laundry, dishes, email answering etc. Then I run out of time! A support group is a good idea!! Perhaps I could start one–if I quit procrastinating about it! Good post Stephanie. Neva

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    • sstamm625 says:

      I agree, Neva, about the fear of something not being good enough. And, yes, I’ve been known to put off the things I like, so I can treat them like dessert and have them last. Of course, I also remember resorting to defrosting my freezer when I was in grad school in order to avoid working on papers or dissertation research! 🙂

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  6. LOVED this post, Stephanie! I’ve been putting off doing things around the house because I’m so under the gun with writing deadlines… and my own manuscripts sit in silence on my computer for the same reason. Having had to make some tough decisions lately about what is of higher priority will hopefully free me up to get back to both: house and manuscripts. But, right now, it’s NCIS time! LOL Thanks for an encouraging post!

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  7. T. L. Cooper says:

    Oooo, Stephanie… Good one. I’ve spent the last two days whittling away at “stuff” and feeling like I’m getting nowhere. I have a bunch and a half of things that need my attention right now, and I feel like no matter which one I’m working on I’m procrastinating another one… Even though intellectually I know it’s only procrastination if I’m doing one thing to avoid doing something else. That’s not the case. These are all things that need done. My task list is pulling me in far too many directions right now. You reminded me the way to accomplish each goal is to just do what needs done – one task and then the next and then the next and then… 🙂 Thanks!!

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    • Wranglers says:

      Thanks, Tammie! I’m glad the post was helpful for you. And apologies for the late, late, late response. I wasn’t really procrastinating in this case–I just now realized there was a comment that needed moderating. (oops!) 🙂 Stephanie

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  8. Nancy Jardine says:

    I make those priority lists, Stephanie, and then also do a bit of procrastinating and shifting about of the list items. This happens in daily life and in my writing as well. I’m now dedicating the rest of July to sorting out my real needs and most of them are writing …oh, no, let me think? … after the garden tasks are done, and the grandchildren are childminded regularly, and the cupboards that are groaning are tidied out. 😉

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