Warning: Some plants were harmed in researching this topic. It was not my intention to offend or traumatize anyone. Especially them.
For years my family referred to our house as the place plants go to die. They even went so far as to openly pity and warn the newest
victims additions when I brought them home.
I love plants. Who doesn’t, right? They’re bright and cheery and add a cozy feel to our homes. They make me happy.
But, the sad truth is, my family was right.
With every adoption of a new plant I’d swear things would be different, promise I’d take better care of them. I’d start out strong: watering them almost daily, adding plant food weekly, wiping down their cute little leaves, and telling them how beautiful they were.
I tried. Really, I did. *Sigh*
It always ended the same way, though: It won’t hurt to skip one day . . . or a few days . . . maybe a week. Eventually I’d notice their stems, once perky, were limp and sagging. I’ll take care of them tomorrow. By the time I’d discover them hanging over the sides of their pots, gasping and barely clinging to life, it was too late.
A good dose of water would revive them temporarily, but they were never the same. After a few more episodes of neglect, they’d meet their demise.
So young. So innocent. The poor plants just didn’t stand a chance.
Slightly unrelated side note: Don’t be fooled by the “Tropical Plant” labels attached to your lush beauties by the garden center. Taking one (okay . . . it was several) of those so-called tropical plants from your air-conditioned house and putting them outside to enjoy some fresh air and sunshine on a beautiful summer day won’t end well.
In my defense, I was trying to be nice to them—Was it my fault they couldn’t appreciate it?
I know, by now you’re thinking, “Well, that’s nice to know, CJ; but what does any of this have to do with your journey as a writer?” Aaahhhh . . . you always ask the perfect questions. I can answer that with one word (but you know I’ll use more):
Simply put—finding every conceivable excuse under the sun to avoid doing the one thing you’re supposed to be doing. And probably one of my worst habits.
Well, I actually prefer to think of it as time management—my method of setting priorities, deciding what can wait until tomorrow. And I am extremely good at my style of “time management,” but that’s not necessarily a good thing . . . just ask the plants.
Procrastination can have the same negative impact on my journey as an author, allowing an unfinished story or idea to wither and die. So I need to ask myself what I’m doing wrong. Why have I been stuck on writing the same chapter for longer than I’m willing to publicly admit?
Everyone is busy. Our personal lives are filled with work, home, and family responsibilities. Add to that all the responsibilities of a new independent author—writing an awesome debut novel, building a platform, networking, learning about publishing and marketing, and trying to figure out what all needs to be done (and in what order)—and life can get crazy real fast.
Accepting that I can’t do everything right away is difficult. Frustrating. I need to prioritize and determine which things truly can wait until tomorrow. But recognizing that I’m making poor decisions in what I allow to take those precious top-priority positions—the things I need to do first—is upsetting. I’ve lost sight of my goals.
I took a closer look at the things I tend to put off and realized they usually fall into one of three categories:
1- Things that I just don’t think are important enough to worry about right now.
2- Things that I really don’t want to do, but I’ll keep them in mind and maybe get to them. Eventually.
3- Things that I really want (or need) to do, but the risk of failure is high, making it difficult for me to push ahead. Face my fear.
The first two categories don’t bother me, sorry to say. The third is a problem, and one that is preventing me from moving forward as an author. Worse, allowing myself to put off things in this category can be dangerous to my creative process.
Yes, I am well aware that we all have the same twenty-four hours each day in which to accomplish as much as we possibly can. I get that, and I do my best not to waste any of it. The problem is there always seems to be far more “things to do” than there are hours to do them in. I’ve even tried giving up sleep in my attempt to create more productive time, but that hasn’t worked very well for me . . . (If you missed that post, click here to find out why.)
I envy people who manage to accomplish more than I can, and I don’t like feeling that way—I want to be one of those people. So this is me, being angry at myself, for allowing myself to get distracted and lose focus.
Clearly, my biggest writing-related priority has to be finishing my book. That means I need to shut off all the noise around me. I need to stop letting other projects or ideas lure me away.
This will truly be a challenge for me. It’s so easy to get side-tracked, but I need to make the most of those twenty-four hours each and every day if I ever intend to reach my goal and become a published author.
And I will. As an author, failure is not an option I’m willing to consider.
As for the plants? Well, I’ve raised the white flag there.
I am happy to report that my latest batch of plants has been thriving for more than a year though . . . thanks to my hubby. He couldn’t bear to sit back and watch the massacre any longer and took over the care of our happy little plants . . . who never sag over the sides of their pots or get scorched on a summer day.
My book deserves the same TLC, but that has to come from me. —CJ