Two steps forward, a whole bunch of steps sideways

So clearly I’ve developed some sort of deep resistance to marketing my books. I still like to write them and design them, but I can’t seem to make myself do the things necessary to actually sell them.

If I knew why this was, presumably I’d get over it, right?

Right now I have the perfect excuse that these are the last few weeks before winter closes in for painting exterior doors and rooms and radiators. Of course, I have a lot of resistance to doing that, too, it turns out. (I also got seriously interrupted when I discovered a bunch of sloppily-disguised old termite damage in one of the rooms. Now I have to repair that because I made it much worse in my panic that my house might fall down.)

I need more excuses, though.

Can I blame my uncomfortable office chair? It’s an old wooden swivel chair, if that helps paint the picture. But is it really uncomfortable? Do I ever sit it in it long enough to find out? I suspect there may be a whole industry selling high-end desks and desk chairs built on people in denial about the real reasons for their procrastination.

Could it be my current fascination with low-sugar foods? My glucose is now slightly above normal, so prediabetic, and both my father and relatively slim brothers have long had full-fledged Type 2 diabetes, so I’ve become one of those wackos who’s not only tried red lentil penne, but even bought more of it. (It’s not bad, if you like red lentils. There’s plenty of chew.)

I also recently learned that regular pasta and rice have a lower glycemic load if you cook them, refrigerate them, and reheat them. Weird, right? Suddenly leftovers are even more our friend. In any case, I find changing over my entire diet takes a lot of brain space and leaves me looking up things like “What is the glycemic load of ice cream?” (Surprisingly low. I’m sorry I looked.)

My other hobby right now is putting items in my IKEA shopping bag and then checking to see if they will be there when I drive the two or three hours to New Jersey or Massachusetts to get them. You would not believe how quickly a certain perfectly narrow shelf with a single narrow door can fly out of stock. Add on a desire to tack on a visit to the grandchildren if it’s NJ – which requires baking because that’s basically the only thing I’ve got going for me as a grandma – and it’s kind of like playing the lottery.

Meanwhile I also really love to just sit and read other people’s stuff, a habit I got into big-time during the pandemic. Writers can claim that’s “research,” but usually I’m just happily chowing down on a story I don’t ever have to think about selling to anyone.

Caitlin Doughty, from her website

However, one book I read recently was research for the next Lawson novel, assuming I get around to volume four, which I expect to be focused on young, make-up-obsessed mortician Marlena Didsbury (who memorably overshared some dead body details over pot roast with the Jennings in THE UTTER CATASTROPHE). If you can stand the subject matter, Caitlin Doughty’s SMOKE GETS IN YOUR EYES: AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE CREMATORY is a pretty amazing read: funny, warm, thought-provoking, and very well-

written. (And as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.) Doughty is a genuine, passionate advocate for “a good death,” but she also has a very entertaining YouTube account.

I also wrote a synopsis for the current novel, the one that’s a romantic comedy and thus a bit of a departure, but my synopsis is 1000 words and I need to somehow get that down to 500. That does at least make painting termite-damaged rooms and writing web posts like this sound like fun again.

So there is some slow, turtle-like progress being made. I finally got my web site verified and authenticated. (My primary computer still refuses to visit my own site, though.) And everyone’s panicking about how Apple’s new privacy policy will ruin the way authors use email, while I have the consolation of knowing I never got around to depending on it in the first place.

Anyway. With this post, I’ve officially achieved two blog posts in two months, after years of silence! So yay me, right?

Any advice? What do you do when you realize you’re deeply resisting doing something you really want or need to do?


7 thoughts on “Two steps forward, a whole bunch of steps sideways

  1. Ah, the wonders of procrastination. I actually spend about 50% of my patient contact time at the college health clinic where I work counseling college students who can’t seem to get assignments done on time. The TLDR version of what I tell them is this: set aside writing time daily. Put the time on your planner and treat it like an appointment. Divide your writing projects into smaller manageable pieces. Reward yourself after completing each piece. Keep plugging along every day. Take breaks if you need to, but limit them to 5 minutes at a time during your designated writing time. Save revisions for the end.

    The “breaking it into manageable pieces” strategy actually works for any large project. The key to lowering the stress is starting early enough. Of course, in your case I’m assuming there’s no fixed deadline. That makes things both easier and harder. Easier because you won’t need to worry about having to pull all-nighters if you procrastinate too much. Harder because having a fixed deadline is very motivating. : )

    But I have no idea why I’m telling you all this. Aren’t you an English teacher? I bet you tell your students exactly the same things. : )

    • Yep, I probably do. But sometimes they have a much deeper-seated resistance to doing the work and just scheduling time doesn’t really address that. (On the other hand, it’s hella better than not addressing it at all!)

      • Well, for “deep seated resistance” there’s always therapy +/- motivating antidepressants. I prescribe a lot of fluoxetine. It’s so motivating in people with depression that it has a black box warning about increased suicide attempts in the first couple of weeks of therapy. Seems that if you give it to someone who is so depressed they want to die but also too unmotivated to act on that desire, sometimes they get motivated to act even before the depression starts to improve in 3-4 weeks, and they try to off themselves. The timing sucks in those cases, but it’s powerful stuff. Works great for motivation.

        • Hmm. That’s pretty scary. I think there can be other reasons for resisting — for a lot of my students, it’s because they’re only going to college to satisfy someone other than themselves. And then there’s good old ADHD. I suspect I may have it (or a social media variant of it) and I find my energy for compensating for it has dwindled as I’ve gotten older. But it may be more basic than that — I may just need to start setting formal deadlines for myself and resist feeling like I’m essentially retired and don’t have to do stuff unless I feel like it.

  2. That could work. I’m looking forward to retirement myself. I’m greatly looking forward to the day when I won’t have any deadlines other than the ones I impose on myself. Enjoy!

  3. Hi, I think I just commented, but it didn’t take. Anyway, I have a similar problem with my two websites for translating and archiving Thai songs, one for the band Carabao and one for all types of songs from the Thai prodemocracy movement. So I am always translating sets of songs related to each other and don’t want to advertise till I get the whole set done. Or I find one more song and then I will REALLY have something interesting to show people (yeah right!). Or I am just going down some rabbit hole of this relates to that, which relates to that, and I should write up an article about it. For instance, only an hour ago, I wrote myself this crazy note: “Asanee & Wasan Add Carabao sings on three songs on the Asanee & Wasan album Bah Hop Fang (1986). In 1987 Asanee collaborated with Add Carabao on the song Cheewit Sampat (Related Life). The tune wanders close to that of the song Duan Pen (Full Moon). Add Carabao wrote a very famous song for Asanee and Wasana’s 4th album (1989), and Asanee in turn sings on the overlooked gem Polachan Duan Pen (Polachan’s [Song] “Full Moon”), which also riffs off Duan Pen, appeared on an Add Carabao solo album. Asanee went on to do progressive rock with the band Butterfly. Here is a 30-year reunion concert by Asanee & Wasan just that is really good (no Add Carabao involved in the concert).” Did I get the wash done? NO. Did I advertise my websites or the really great song I translated and posted today? No.

    • It took, but I have comments on moderation because otherwise it’s all cheap gold and sunglasses or mysterious links I wouldn’t want any readers to follow. So you have to wait for me to see your comment AND get to a computer that actually lets me access my own site….