Tuesday, March 8, 2011

SpongeBob, Why Didn't You Just Write Your Essay?

One of my favorite SpongeBob Squarepants episodes was on Nickelodeon this morning. Appropriately titled, "Procrastination," the viewer finds SpongeBob trying to avoid writing the 800-word essay Mrs. Puff has assigned on what not to do at a stoplight. He sharpens his pencil. When he erases what he's written, he blows the eraser particles off the paper and proceeds to choke on them, which means he has to run for a glass of water. He calls Patrick at 3 AM to find out what he's doing. He then proceeds to have a conversation with his mailman about how mailmen get their mail.

In a nut shell, anything that he can do to avoid sitting down and writing his essay, SpongeBob is willing to do. Until of course, his procrastination leads him to accidentally setting his house on fire. Angry and betrayed the house screams, "Why did you set me on fire, SpongeBob? Why Didn't You Just Write Your Essay?"

I think we all have our SpongeBob moments. When we don't have writing deadlines, it's easy to push off our projects. There's always tomorrow, right?

The problem is that tomorrow comes and we find a new excuse not to sit down in our chair and write. Here are some that I've used:

  1. I haven't been spending enough time with the kids lately.
  2. The house must get cleaned today!
  3. I can't move forward on my story without performing more research.
  4. If I take a few moments to clean out my Inbox first, I'll be able to concentrate better.
  5. I have that meeting coming up, I need to go over my notes so I'll be prepared.
I'm sure I've used others, but the point is that without a deadline and a to-do list, the motivation to accomplish your writing goals is less.

I have a friend who decided she wanted to stop talking about writing and finish her first book. What did she do? She got up early each morning before she had to go to work and wrote. Sometimes she got 5,000 words, other times, 10,000, and often closer to 25,000 words a week.

Why do I know this? Because she posted her progress online and she and I offered each other support in our writing goals throughout the year. Now her first draft is done, she's in the editing phase, and is putting together her business plan.

Tired of just talking about writing? Sit down and write out your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Create a weekly to-do list. See if you can find a friend to share this list with who can applaud your successes and encourage you along the way. Don't have anyone available to help out right now? Join The Professional Writer's Connection and post your goals in our Goals section.

What happened to poor SpongeBob? He woke up from his nightmare to find his house still standing and his paper stuck to his head. He only had 5 minutes to write 800 words and then make it to school on time.

See what happens when you have the right motivation?

SpongeBob is such a consciencous student, that to not complete his assignment was unthinkable. Many of the tasks he performed to avoid writing the essay became things not to do at a stoplight. He passed the assignment in on time.

Creating deadlines for your WIPs will help you reach your writing goals. Making up a weekly to-do list allows you to check off items as you accomplish them so you see progress. Seeking out motivation and support from others will help too. Writing can be a lonely road. Why not let someone else share the journey with you?


terri.forehand said...

Great tips to help with procrastination. Thanks for sharing.


V.R. Leavitt said...

Yes, it's sad that as a 34 year old women, the mention of Spongebob immediately grabs my attention, but that episode is great...and yes, we as writers can certainly learn a lot from it.

Great post, Cheryl!

Kelly McClymer said...

LOL! My sons are grown, so I haven't seen SpongeBob in a while, but this rings so true, I should seek out the episode. Deadlines, are good. At the moment, however, I am so overloaded that my general excuse is, "I'll die if I don't get eight hours of sleep :-)."


Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by ladies. I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

Kelly, I'm where you are right now too, so I understand. I think I got 4 1/2 hours last night. Maybe it's time to sit down and see what is taking up so much of your time. Are you saying "yes" to things when the answer should be "no, not now?" I have been known to do that way too much. We were talking about reviews and I realized I have 45 books in my TBR pile that I have agreed to review for people. How the heck did that happen?

And you know, it doesn't have to be write for an hour. I'm cool if I only get 5 minutes every day right now.

Just some things to think about. You have to come up with a schedule that works best for you, as no one else is living your life. Good luck!


Anonymous said...

When I finished the post and continued reading my other email something began to eat at me. I couldn't figure out what it was. Now I know what it is. I'm worried about you. Why, you ask? You watch Sponge Bob enough to have a favorite episode.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Writer & Speaker
Children's Author of Klutzy Kantor & Marta's Gargantuan Wings

Cheryl said...

Actually, I have several. :) Band Geeks tops the list. By the way, my kids call me Squidward. I'm not sure if it's because I have such a big nose or I'm a party pooper.

Gail said...

I have seen that episode of SpongeBob and it is so cute and true. I seem to be the same way. Thanks for the article Cheryl. You made my morning.

Cheryl said...

Glad you liked it, Gail.

Nancy Stewart said...

Wonderful advice here. This is something I think we all struggle with, and your comments are timely. Time management is so vital and is sometimes so difficult to achieve. Many thanks!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

LOL. Me, me, me. Something always needs doing. I do make a schedule for each week. The problem is, I don't always stick to it. Working on that.

Kate Dolan said...

It's funny how many lessons you can learn from Spongebob... which means that time spent watching cartoons with your kids is not really procrastinating, is it? Ahem...

Turning the Clock Back said...

I have 2 lists...a should and a MUST. When I finish the MUST, I will move on to the SHOULD...if I feel like it :) If not, I ignore it until it becomes a MUST!

Cheryl said...

Thanks for stopping by ladies. Glad you liked the article. Bev, I have a hard time imagining you not sticking to your lists with as much as you accomplisn.

Kate, you are so right. :)

Diane, if I had two lists I might go crazy. I have hard enough time with one. At least some items travel to your MUST list. :)

Jessie said...

I happened upon this link on my twitter feed because of the Spongebob reference. Spongebob became popular when i was in high school. I am 28 now and that is my favorite episode, also. We can learn alot from ol' Spongebob.

I love this post because I have always been a procrastinator. I love this post and look forward to reading others.