A Libra’s Guide to Finishing Your Novel, Part One: Procrastination

a libras guide

Welcome to the Libra’s Guide to Finishing Your Novel.

Note: This post is designed for writing advice in terms of procrastination, structure, and follow-through. This post is, in no way, subscribing to astrology or endorsing it therein. It’s mean to be a fun approach to finishing a novel.

This post is the first of a three-part series all about the Zodiac’s Diplomat in terms of writing, revising, and finishing a novel. Part one will cover the dreaded procrastination, and parts two and three will cover structure and follow-through–so stay tuned!

Procrastination: The Libra’s Enduring Invention

Seriously. I think we invented it. If not, then we definitely fine-tuned it down to a science. Bill Gates is known for saying, and I paraphrase, that he gives a difficult job to a lazy person because that person will find an easy way to do it. I’m sure he gave that difficult job to a Libra, who waited until the very last minute and managed to pull it off with the grace and poise the sign is known for.

But that doesn’t mean procrastination is ok. That doesn’t mean that procrastination isn’t without its drawbacks.

What goes on behind the scenes is very telling. Libras tend to worry and are prone to nervous tendencies. Are you the exception? Thank goodness, because these are traits that you don’t want–frantic working conditions, nervous fingers typing ninety miles an hour, a stomach in knots that threatens to remove, by force, everything you’ve ever eaten in your entire life (and then some).

For those of you who do know what I’m talking about, rest assured that you’re not alone.

Don’t get me wrong–Libras can get crap done. We have a stellar work ethic–when we feel like it. We’re creative with brilliant ideas and sound insight–but we’re lazy. We usually need incentive to get the ball rolling, so here’s my advice for the horrifying Procrastination Monster:

Give yourself incentive to move your lazy bum and get to work.

What sort of incentive? For me, it’s playing video games. I consciously monitor my game time when I have a writing deadline coming up. (Deadlines will be discussed in the next post, concerning structure). I will abstain from playing until a milestone is met. Right now, I’m revising chapters in increments of five. Before I will let myself play for two hours (because you can’t get anything done on WoW in only sixty minutes), I have to revise five chapters. Revisions include going over the written text and then adding those changes into my Scrivener document. Sometimes that work comes with more research, hitting a writing wall, further developing a character, and/or mending a plot hole, so I won’t get to play that day.

I didn’t say it would be easy–but no one can write my novel but me. THE SAME GOES FOR YOU.

The incentive has to have value.

If I played video games regardless of meeting my target, then why in the world do I have that incentive in the first place? I have to want it, don’t I? Much like in our own novels, we have to make the reader want–want to know what happens next, want two characters to get together, want the bad guy to meet his just desserts, the whole nine. Writers, too, must want–want that incentive, want to finish their novel, want an agent to think they’re the bee’s knees. If the incentive doesn’t have value, then it’s not an incentive.

Note: Please keep your incentives healthy! Don’t binge on junk food because you met your writing goal. The idea is to treat yourself, not wreck yourself! Moderation is key. A Doritos Locos taco from Taco Bell is great, but not twenty of them.

Accountability

If you’re not the type to stick to your guns about your own incentives, then recruit a loved one to help. Stay accountable. If you’re slacking and you’re not the one to keep yourself in line, ask someone to be your Drill Sergeant. Without accountability, this method is useless. If you can keep yourself accountable, rock on. Set your goals, install your method, and meet your word count like a boss. But if you need a helping hand, don’t be afraid to ask for one. Use a family member, friend, fellow writer, the mailman–whoever is available and willing to help.

Warning: You may feel frustrated with the person you’ve commissioned to be your accountability buddy. Don’t. You asked them to take this journey with you, not the other way around, so when they call you out on your crap, suck it up, but your Big Kid Pants on, and DO YOUR JOB.

Inspiration: Famous Libra Writers

Favorites of mine, I admit, but these Libra writers have made names for themselves in the writing world. There are more out there–and you’re probably the next one to find yourself on this list! SO GET CRACKIN’!

  • Miguel de Cervantes (b. Sept. 29, 1547), author of Don Quixote
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (b. Oct. 21, 1772), author of Rime of the Ancient Mariner (and a crapton of great poetry)
  • Oscar Wilde (b. Oct. 16, 1854), author of my favorite novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • T.S. Eliot (b. Sept. 26, 1888), author of my favorite poem, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
  • F. Scott Fitzgerald (b. Sept. 24, 1896), author of The Great Gatsby
  • William Faulkner (b. Sept. 25, 1897), author of The Sound and the Fury
  • Arthur Miller (b. Oct. 17, 1915), author of Death of a Salesman
  • Frank Herbert (b. Oct. 8, 1920), author of Dune
  • Elie Wiesel (b. Sept. 30, 1928), author of Night
  • Ursula K. Le Guin (b. Oct. 21, 1929), author of A Wizard of Earthsea
  • John Le Carré (b. Oct. 19, 1931), author of a crapton of bestsellers like Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Constant Gardener
  • Anne Rice (b. Oct. 4, 1941), author of Interview with the Vampire
  • Michael Crichton (b. Oct. 23, 1942), author of Jurassic Park
    • Did anyone else know that this man was 6’9″!?!?!?!?!? HE WAS THE SAME HEIGHT AS HAFþÓR BJÖRNSSON FROM GAME OF THRONES!!!!
  • R. L. Stine (b. Oct. 8, 1943), author of Goosebumps
  • Carrie Fisher (b. Oct. 21, 1956), author of Wishful Drinking

 

How do you beat procrastination? Let me know in the comments!

(No, I’m still not over Michael Crichton being 6’9″.)

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