The Buck Stops Here

Yay! It’s Friday again! Hope you’re having a good one! Casey here.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read – “the buck stops here.” I’ve always loved that phrase.

It’s the ultimate mark of true leadership, taking responsibility for an action, even if you personally didn’t cause it. Like a good captain, you go down with the ship and are responsible for your subordinates behavior. Not an easy thing to do.

I’ve been in this position, not as U.S. president, but as a mother, a manager, even president of my sorority chapter in college. In my day job, I’ve sworn off having responsibility for others. Too much stress, too little reward. Obviously, as a mom, I can’t do that, but lucky for me, my sons are well-behaved.

However, I can’t totally abdicate my leadership role as an author because there’s only one captain at the helm of the good ship SS Writer – me.

Often times, when I attend my monthly RWA chapter meetings, I hear a common complaint – “I need more time to write.” Or “I need someone to motivate me to write.”

I’ve addressed adding more time, so this time I’m switching to motivation. And I’m not going to go easy on you. There’s a reason Suze calls me “the whip cracker.”

First rule, when it comes to motivation – you are in control of you. No one else.IMG_2073

To use myself as an example, if I’m sitting at my computer staring into space or web surfing or avoiding writing, the first person I chastise is me. Sound harsh? You bet!

But it’s also great news. That means you can take charge and do the work.

Casey’s Whip Cracking Tips:

1. Recognize that you are procrastinating and cut it out!

2. Determine why you’re procrastinating. Maybe you’re stuck at a certain point in the plot. My advice, either skip that spot and come back to it later or plow ahead and write something (and fix it later if you don’t like it). I can tell you this from personal (and recent experience), waiting for inspiration to strike isn’t going to work!

Don’t make me send this guy . . .

3. Enlist the aid of a friend. I know I just said, no one can make you do the work, but it can help to spend time with others. Even if to cheer you up!

4. Join a writing sprint – CTRWA has them all them time on our Facebook fan page!! All writers are welcome, not just chapter members.

5. Use the carrot and the stick approach. Try to reward yourself for meeting your goal (avoid using food, otherwise you’ll be stressed about your weight too). And, sorry, but if that doesn’t work, you have to suck it up and just do it (hear the whip snap?)

My final tip, realize that tomorrow is another day. Believe it or not, there are days (and sometimes weeks) where productive work won’t get done. That’s not an excuse to slack off, but do recognize that sometimes life throws curve balls.

Now, go forth and be productive! Or I’ll find you with my whip! *snap*

What are your favorite whip cracking techniques?And do they work for you?

14 thoughts on “The Buck Stops Here”

  1. Great tips, Casey. I use number two a lot, but I don’t like to skip ahead because I’m very linear. To move forward, I ask myself, “what is the goal of my character in this scene?” As soon as I have that answered, the door opens, and I can move forward. (Also, remember to ask yourself what is getting in the way of that goal, or the scene will end up flat.)

    Thanks for cracking the whip! I’m off to write!

  2. Amen!! Really good tips, Casey. Often when people complain to me that they have no time to write, I tell them to get a piece of paper, draw out a schedule, and MAKE time. Look at/write down what you are doing in your day, and find out what you are doing instead of writing. Is that thing really more important to you than writing (for example, people generally spend way more time on Facebook and email than they think they do). Can you delegate some of the tasks you don’t really want to do? (my husband does the dishes at night so I have time to do things). And if I hear one more person complain that their cats don’t let them write… 😉

    1. Cats, huh? I have cats and while they do like to get in my face, I just type around them! And delegation is a great tip. We have the same arrangement with dishes at my house too. It works very nicely.

  3. Ugh, i am so motivated, i can hardly stand it. My issues are life. We spoke before Casey, and you said don’t get side-tracked, just keep writing. Ok, I was, I listened to you. I stopped painting, I’m not teaching, I cut back on writing my blog, and am finished with the latest workshop. So what’s my problem? I signed up for that Write Stuff judging, and there goes my writing until I’m done. I refuse to multi-task anymore. Who wins when multi-tasking? No one, and then there is this thing call “stress.” I am over it. No more stress. I just want to enjoy what I am doing. And I am.

    1. I agree Gail. There is this myth about multi-tasking – that somehow we can do it all and I’m finding that is just not true. Like I said, life happens and sometimes that is just how it is! Hang in there!

  4. Very timely, Casey, as I have been masterfully procrastinating as of late.

    When I get overwhelmed, I need to step back and take time out, but finding the “balance” of how much time out I need and what is an “avoidance issue” is the tricky part. I’m generally a good whip cracker myself, but I’ve also learned to respect and trust the fact that I need some down time, that exercise is an acceptable form of procrastination, and that occasionally I have to give in to some “processing” time.

    For instance, I’m in the home stretch on my WIP, say, the last 15,000 words. I have to formulate a plan to wrap up all the appropriate story lines, work out the action sequences of the final big battle, and also research the location details for these final scenes (I’ve never been to Vegas so I have to do a lot of “surfing” to get the images clear in my head.) I can’t go back to fix it later because it’s an integral piece of the plot. My brain has been busy working it all out the last week or two. I’m hoping to get it all down on the page now. We’ll see if being snowed in for a few days motivates me to “get ‘er done.”

    Thanks for the pep talk and the great tips!

    1. You are definitely a great whipcracker!! And I totally agree on the “processing time”. That is the mode I am in right now. I have to start more books and I’m bouncing between ideas trying to see which one will take hold and cement itself in my brain. Good luck on those last 15,000! You’ll be done before you know it!

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