I have developed a terrible habit in my writing of late. When first I put pen to paper, as it were, I maintain a laser-like focus that cannot be interrupted even by the scent of bacon on the stove. It has been said that I write as though the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are at my door, and my instructional guide will teach the human race what it needs to know to survive Armageddon. I finish the last body paragraph, and then sit back to admire my work.
Bam, I’ve been hit again. Premature Congratulation Syndrome (PCS) is a modern way of describing an old problem that plagues me as an article writer. Like the milkmaid in Aesop’s famous fable, I too am guilty of counting my chickens before they hatch. But, instead of imagining how happy I will be after I sell my eggs, I think about how proud I am of my ability to write an article or blog post quickly. Before I have actually completed the job. PCS is crushing my momentum. If you do not beware, it will kill yours as well.
Are You a PCS Sufferer?
There are a handful of signs that you have succumbed to the horrors of PCS. They include:
- difficulty managing deadlines
- wandering focus
- a bold start, but a flagging finish
- inability to complete a set of bull
The end run is when PCS claims its next victim. You are so close to concluding a job. But, before you hit “submit,” you foster a moment of pride in your work. By the time you resurface from your spot in that gleaming euphoria, your brain is already on to other tasks. Now, you have to force yourself back to the current content. Which, if I can be honest, is a little like burping up last night’s dinner. It is not so good the second time around.
Tricking the PCS Demons
As any article writer knows, you often fall into a pattern of writing that seems to work efficiently for you. Some prefer to write the body first, reserving the introduction and conclusion for the very end. Others compose in a linear fashion. You say potato, I say po-tah-to, but the gradual development of creative lethargy is what makes people want to call the whole thing off. If your system has failed you, do not go down in a blaze of sour grapes. As the folks at Writer’s Digest argue, you should first aim to change things up. In this case, try writing your conclusion first, so that all you have to do is edit it when you are done with your initial draft.
PCS sucks the life from your writing in much the same way that bad fish sucks the fresh air out of a room. The good news is that PCS has a treatment, if not an outright cure. If you keep ahead of the game by altering your writing tactics, you can stave off the worst effects of PCS. By taking my own advice, it looks like I managed to avoid it today. I better go attend to those four horsemen now. Their steeds could probably use some oats.
Holly S has a young daughter. As such, she thinks that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have steeds named Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, Applejack and Twilight Sparkle.