By Christine Macdonald, NAMW Featured Member of the Month, October 2010
Inside every one of us are unfinished pieces of our personal memoir puzzle, searching for the perfect fit. We long for the puzzle to be complete, but sometimes the missing pieces can seem impossible to find. During these times, damaging practices of self-sabotage can easily take over our process, making the daunting task of memoir writing that much more challenging.
Topping the list of monkey wrenches that halt our creative wheels is procrastination.
Procrastination is the antithesis of completion, the mother-load of hazardous behaviors when it comes to our writing. But yet somehow most of us fall prey to her invitations of not tonight honey, I need a mental break.
So why procrastinate? Studies show there are psychological connections between putting off tasks and the way we feel about ourselves. Fear of failure and lack of confidence play a pivotal role in how a person manages their responsibilities. Some of us simply don’t have the time or peace and quiet to focus on our memoirs. So what do we do?
Here are some suggestions to help you go from pushing the page aside to actually celebrating your hard work.
To tackle the procrastination piranha head-on, write down the reasons why you don’t want to write – right now. Explain to yourself on the page why you feel you can’t possibly write another word and you will be amazed how much you have written. This exercise is a bit of passive aggressive wrapped in psychoanalysis but sometimes all it takes is getting your fingers moving to push through your personal wall of self-sabotage.
Curb the surfing
For procrastinators, it’s very easy to get lost in cyberspace. What starts out as checking your emails and social network accounts can quickly turn in to wasted hours surfing the web. If reading CNN, checking your Facebook account and catching up on personal blogs are part of your daily routine, give yourself a time limit. As soon as your morning coffee is finished, so is your Internet surfing.
Give yourself a deadline
Not having a deadline with our personal writing schedule is a great luxury, but also procrastination’s most attractive ally. A great tool to combat this is to actually give yourself a deadline. Being part of a writer’s group (in person or online) is an excellent way to hold yourself accountable.
Take baby steps
Writing a memoir is not easy. In fact, it may be the hardest thing you ever do. Feeling overwhelmed comes with the territory and procrastination is an easy way to listen to those pesky voices in our heads. When you feel that sinking feeling, remember, a memoir is simply a string of personal vignettes. Take small steps and focus on finishing one sentence, one paragraph, and one vignette at a time. Worry about threading the story together later. Your main focus right now is to break through your stalling and just get it all down.
Ignite to write
Some would argue writer’s procrastination is simply another way of saying writer’s block, something all of us have faced. If you feel you are struggling to find that spark, try tapping in to your creative resources. Perhaps re-read an amazing memoir or poem that inspires you. It may sound simple, but sometimes the path of least ristence is there to remind us not to be so hard on ourselves. Listen to music or watch your favorite movie; ignite that special place in your heart that compelled you to write your story in the first place.
We all have a story inside of us. It’s up to us to find the way to break past procrastination and start typing – one step – one word – one memory at a time.
About the Author, Christine MacDonald:
Although raised on the island of O’ahu, Christine Macdonald’s childhood was far from a tropical paradise. At age 13, sexual abuse left her emotionally scarred and she turned to drugs and alcohol. A year later she was diagnosed with Grade IV Nodulocystic Acne Vulgaris, a very severe skin disease consisting of inflammatory lesions and deep seated cysts. Most of her face, chest and back were infected and she would go on to have several surgeries on her face to remedy the scarring. Following her first procedure at just 16, Christine began to abuse the narcotic Demerol, in addition to other substances.
As a way to feel validated, Macdonald began stripping at age 19. For the next nine and a half years, the world of drugs and exotic dancing provided the escapism she so desperately sought.
Today at 41, Christine is ready to share her story. Her articles have earned cover spots and editor’s picks on Open Salon and she has been featured and recognized as a rising author on the popular publishing site Scribd.
As a blogger Macdonald showcases her sharp wit and humor writing about various topics from self worth issues to equal rights, addition to candidly sharing her personal history of drug abuse and most recent cancer battle.
Upon completion of her memoir, she plans on launching Another Way To Say It Greetings, a greeting card project she founded specifically for her friends of the GLBT community.
Christine brings her love of the coast to Southern California where she has lived since 1996. She lives with her boyfriend, Kevin Weber and remains cancer free.
Find Christine Online:
Facebook: Christine Macdonald Facebook