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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Slacker or Slave Driver?

Slacker or Slave Driver?

My reading on various blogs – and Tweets and FB posts – would suggest that some writers suffer from procrastination. They find it difficult to force themselves to sit down and write, and I remember a time I used to have the same problem.

However, in the past year or so, I’ve swung completely in the opposite direction. I never let myself stop.

My laptop has become an extension of my body. I write (or edit or revise or critique) whenever I am home. I do it while cooking – and sometimes burn dinner. I have my computer on my lap while watching TV – to the point where my husband sometimes declares Family Movie Night to be a Laptop Free Zone, forcibly removing Gabbey’s laptop (she suffers from the same problem) and turning the lights out on me, because he knows I’m a terrible typist and can’t write in the dark.

Because I teach a full working day, I often feel as if I have to use every second at home to write in order to get anything accomplished. Last week, I started to burn out. I’d reached an impasse on two separate projects. I was tired and cranky and I wondered why I didn’t just …

… take a night off.

Horror of horrors! It’s not just Resolution 2011 – to write every day in 2011. In fact, the resolution was an argument FOR taking a night off. Why not donate to the Ladies in Ghana and spend an evening watching Torchwood on Netflix-streaming, hoping to catch Captain Jack in leather pants?

Leather pants. Wanna look some more? Go ahead; I’ll wait.

I came to this conclusion by 9am that day, and I felt such a sense of relief, giving myself permission to NOT WRITE. Or maybe it was the mental image of those leather pants.

Anyway, by 3pm, the VERY IDEA of taking a break had knocked something loose, and I suddenly knew how to get around at least one of the problems frustrating me.

Don’t laugh, but I didn’t take a complete break from writing that night. (I had to get down my ideas while they were fresh. I had to.) But I did set a limit on how long I would work. And then I shut the laptop and watched some TV.

No leather pants that evening, but his smile is really cute, too. Really.

So – are you a Slacker or a Slave Driver?

8 Responses to Slacker or Slave Driver?

  1. kellyhashway says:

    I have to say I’m a slave driver. My husband makes comments about how my laptop is always on, too. I can’t help it. If I’m working on a project, I can’t stop thinking about it. I carry little notebooks around everywhere so I can write even when I’m not home. Sometimes I feel guilty for how much time I devote to writing–like when my daughter or husband say, “Are you finished yet?” But honestly, I’m a writer. I can’t just flip a switch and turn that off, nor do I want to.

  2. mshatch says:

    slave driver for the most part – especially in comparison to how I used to be. I even skipped Fringe (the ONLY show I religiously watch) last friday in favor of writing. But I did take last night off to watch the Academy Awards 🙂

  3. JEM says:

    I know EXACTLY how you feel! I work a full time day job as well, so I think I have to be doing SOMETHING every minute outside of the work day. Even when I’m slacking off I think I should be working. I’ve gotten better about forcing myself to take some time off to run through a problem instead of forcing myself to write through it (which almost never works for me). Still, I think if I created a more dedicated schedule for myself I would be better about enjoying the slacking off :).

  4. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! yikes! im a super slacker for sure. ack! a while back i was that slave driver cause i kept thinkin i just got get this wrote and that finished and this started cause i got worried cause of my sickness i could maybe get dead any time and not have stuff all done. then when i got playing baseball for the very first time its like i could see im more then just a writer and i gotta take time for me so i could do lots of stuff i wanna do beside write. what i learned is you gotta get a balance for your life.
    …hugs from lenny

  5. salarsenッ says:

    Laptop Free Zone…that is funny!

    You’ll need to help me convert. I’m not a procrastinator. I’m a doubter. Geez…I wish I could get rid of this bug. Nothing in my life has ever plagued me like this and I know it’s what is keeping from that agent. Grr…I will get there. Promise.

  6. Dianne, I think you know what I am. I learned the hard way that the day off is necessary. When I was teaching I poured all my creative energy into my classroom and I drove myself into the ground on more than one occasion. Old habits die hard though. Right now I’m dealing with my extremely high standards in my own endeavors. Sometimes we push ourselves extremely hard, do we not?

  7. He does have a cute smile doesn’t he?
    I’d be a slacker without goals, but since I have goals I try my hardest to stick to them when I write.

  8. I go in spurts. When I’m on a roll, I write all the time. Then it’s like I need a breather and I have to read or watch a movie. Then I’ll be inspired and have to write some more 🙂