Monday, June 23, 2014

Swallow the Big Frog First ... by Bonnie Wisler

Years ago, my boss had a coffee mug with frogs on it. On the front was a big ugly frog with the saying swallow the big frog first. UGH!!! How could he even look at that first thing in the morning, much less drink coffee from it? But funny thing . . . I think of that mug so often. It’s about those big things we take the Scarlett approach to (I’ll think about it tomorrow).

But it’s those BIG things that we need to face and tackle daily! “How do you eat an elephant?” the jokester asks. “One bite at a time”! And that’s the truth!

Deadlines, they are the ultimate albatross – looming large over our daily lives. Always in the back of our mind, nagging, heckling, taunting us. They are the BIG FROG!

Recently, life had gotten in the way of my writing . . . as I’m sure it does for many of you. Working a full-time job, taking care of my 93-years-young mother, selling a two-story home and downsizing to a one story with my mother . . . should I go on? Have I had any creative time? NO. But then there was this big FROG named Opportunity . . . and I just had to give him a kiss.

Triangle SinC (Sisters in Crime) is a delightful group of Raleigh, NC – area writers that I am honored to be a part of. Wonderful, interesting speakers at the monthly meetings. A year ago the chapter was soliciting short stories for an anthology and I thought maybe I could come up with something they would want. So, in the middle of working full-time, packing, yard sales, mom to the doctor, mom to the ER, packing some more, moving to an apartment while the new house was being built, unpacking, a few major holidays thrown in the mix, a horrible winter when I had to walk my dog every morning/night because I no longer had a fenced-in yard, and then packing again, calling 911, another trip to the ER, and walk-throughs and work and closings, and unpacking again . . . get the picture? Somehow – the DEADLINE – that BIG FROG – motivated me to find time to work on a short story that was accepted! (I felt like Sally Fields: “they like me, they really like me . . .”).

Then work on revisions and here we are; it’s the end of Spring. I survived. (And mom is doing well!) I kissed and swallowed that big frog – and the result was wonderful. “Boomerang” is part of a dynamite collection entitled Carolina Crimes: 19 Tales of Lust, Love, and Longing (Wildside Press)! The stories are all GREAT – and I love, love, LOVE the cover!
What did I learn? If those words really need to come out, really need to get on paper, or on the computer, or just out of your head, you will make time. Write them on a napkin from the coffee shop (isn’t that what JK Rowling did?), or just sit down and watch that cursor curse at you (ever wonder why they call it a cursor?). It’s mocking you! WRITE SOMETHING, it’s saying.

Procrastination can be deadly . . . or you can make it work in your favor when those deadlines hop in your path like that BIG Frog did with me. JUST DO IT – and the act alone will put a smile on your face!

Do you have tales of procrastination? Of how you got through your “I’ll think about it tomorrow” – how you swallowed the BIG Frog – or whatever it took to get you motivated and get the keyboard humming a tune of “Yes, I’m writing again” . . . then I’d love to hear about them in the comments below! The best writerly procrastination story will win a paperback copy of Carolina Crimes, signed by yours truly. I’ll mail it when I get a moment – that’s a LITTLE frog! (Pat's note:  The deadline to leave your procrastination story in the comments is midnight Mountain Time, Tuesday, June 24th. The winner will be selected and the name posted here on Wednesday, June 25th. This giveaway is for U.S. and Canada residents.).

For a tantalizing peek at the theme of all the stories in Carolina Crimes, you can watch the book trailer on You Tube.

You can buy Carolina Crimes: 19 Stories of Lust, Love, and Longing here, in e-book or paperback.


Bonnie Wisler is a member of SinC, RWA, and has participated in numerous writing groups. Her love of animals, nature, travel, and mystery is vividly reflected in her writing. Her first novel, Count a Hundred Stars received five star ratings from both Foreward Clarion and Midwest Book Reviews, and is available on Amazon. Bonnie is retired from the federal government, works part-time for a major airline, and lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her family.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I recently contributed to an anthology and yes, that deadline was an ugly big frog, but it did motivate me to write!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I am the anti-procrastinator. I'm constantly working on things because I don't like to put stuff off. Like when I'm formatting someone's book - I'll tell them 5 days and finish it in 2 because I worry I'll miss the deadline.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I like to do the most unpleasant thing on my list first--and then I feel so smug the rest of the day! So a deadline (big frog) would have a daily goal to swallow.

John Paul McKinney said...

The first book I ever wrote was a textbook on developmental psychology that seemed to be taking forever. I was taking a course on “specific behavior change” at the time. When it came time to choose our projects – the area of behavior we wanted to change – I mentioned my procrastination. The instructor replied, “The trouble with procrastination projects is that they never get off the ground.” Instead, he had me focus on behavior, not non-behavior. It was the writing I needed to focus on, not the fact that I wasn’t writing. “The dead person principle of behavior,” he called it. “If a dead person can do it, it’s not behavior.” I got the book done that semester by following his PRITTA formula: Pinpoint (the specific behavior); Record (get a base rate of how much writing I was doing); Intervene (my intervention was sitting at the typewriter for a specified time each day and rewarding myself at the end of the week with a day off if I had followed through); Try; Try Again.
By the way, he also suggested the elephant image to us, although his version went like this: If you meet an elephant in the woods and you want him for dinner you first must cut him into pieces – small pieces. He had in his office a whole shelf of glass and ceramic elephants former students had given him. Instead of working on the elephant of a whole textbook, I ate up one chapter at a time.

Clarissa Draper said...

Congrats on getting accepted in the book and swallowing the big frog. I'm glad you're writing again. Now I want to know what the ugly frog looks like. I'll take a look at the book.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I have contributed to three anthologies. Deadlines are indeed the big frog. I have one looming now (7 days to be precise).

Dean K Miller said...

Hi Bonnie. I've worked under one deadline, which ended up being my first paycheck in writing. I didn't find that deadline to stressful...too much excitement. Since then, the only ones I've encountered are contests, so again, miss that and...meh...move on.

I'm more "motivated deadline-ish" and work on things when I can. Life, yep, it gets in the way. But without life, what would we write about?

Anonymous said...

I forget where I first heard it said, but there is no job so large that it cannot be made larger through procrastination.

I owned a small newspaper at one point. I was owner and staff, actually. Even with the immovable, weekly deadline, there were times I'd freeze up. What got me through it was thinking that some people dug ditches, I just had to keep my fingers moving. No different than digging ditches.

Eileen Goudge said...

My problem is, I don't procrastinate enough, so the writing becomes the beast that swallows everything else in my life. My husband is lucky I shower regularly. Me? I probably wouldn't notice. I sometimes wish I'd come with a "pause" button like on my TV remote. Maybe I just didn't read the manual, another thing I don't time for :)

Bonnie Wisler said...

Thanks for all the great posts...I really enjoyed learning other approaches to that big frog. We'll announce the winner of "Carolina Crimes" shortly. In the meantime, sit back, enjoy a cup of coffee, and "swallow that big frog!"