Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought: Vanessa Di Gregorio

26 May

by Vanessa Di Gregorio


You might recall that Sarah and Sammy kicked off the Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought series. Well, today I thought I’d share with you a bit about myself and my day-to day life.

But what you first need to understand is that I have a problem.

I’m super busy (or at least I feel like I am). And when I’m not, I procrastinate. A lot*.

*Not to be confused with the Alot

From the moment I wake up (at 6:00 am), to the moment I go to bed (10-10:30 pm, cause I ain’t no youngin anymore), I am busy. My commute, my work, and subsequent commute back home leaves me feeling a tad bit tired. Then there’s dinner, catching up on TV shows I adore (Glee, The Office, Fringe, Modern Family, and Game of Thrones to name a few), perhaps a bit of reading here and there, and a husband I like to spend time with. And that’s not including the times when awesome games like Portal 2 come out (which then occupies even more of that spare time, if not all of it).

Then there are the work events, where I try to network with as many fellow publishing peeps as possible (despite my bouts of social awkwardness). Or there are the times I go out to catch up with friends after work for a couple of hours.

Does this make me any more busy than the average person? Probably not. Which brings me back to my problem: I procrastinate.

For all that I claim to be perpetually busy, I still somehow end up spending at least 35-50% of my time on my laptop. I might be reading my fave blogs, checking my email, or scanning my Facebook or Twitter pages. I might even be writing up book reviews, browsing through Etsy or Tumblr, and peeking at my Goodreads account.

So where do I find the time to squeeze in some writing?

Here’s the thing: I don’t.

That’s a scary thing to admit to people I admire and respect; that’s a ridiculously frightening thing to tell all of you. I mean, here I am offering you advice; here I am telling you that you should write and read as much as possible.

Easier said than done, right?

I know, I know. I should be better. I should be more disciplined. I should be at the very least trying to meet a daily, or weekly, or even monthly word count as a means of motivating myself. I have wonderful CP’s who constantly beg me for the next chapter. And my response?

Soon, soon.”

I struggle with finding time to write. And even when I do convince myself that I should work on RIFT – even when I finally have that document open, staring at me, I get distracted. I procrastinate.

I’m surrounded by people who write so much more than I do; by people who go through the day looking forward to the chance they get to sit down and write. People who are so much more dedicated than myself; who schedule time to write. I did that once. I was good at finding the time. But now I seem to doubt myself a lot more. Now I think, “I’m not a real writer”. I don’t devote nearly as much time as I once did to writing. I worry that just because people liked some of RIFT, it doesn’t mean they’ll like the rest.

Yet I want to write. I want to finish RIFT. I have moments where all I want to do is sit down and write. But those moments, it seems, don’t come often enough anymore; or if they do, they get pushed aside. And it’s not that I’m not in love with the story; I am. But I think, “Well, I can get to that tomorrow. I need to do this first”.

Am I the only person who does this? If being a part of LTWF has shown me one thing, it’s how absolutely devoted every other contributor is. They all seem to write daily. They all put my writing pace to shame. They all write. I sit and think about writing.

I struggle with this on a daily basis. I know I should write. I want to write. I think about doing it;sometimes at work, or while I’m watching a show or reading a book.  But every day it’s the same thing; I put it off and do all the other things because they’re easier. Because sometimes, nothing else makes me doubt myself as much as writing.

But I love writing. I can’t imagine not writing, even if (lately) I haven’t found the time to write. I just need to make the time. I need to get my act together and actually become someone worth listening to.

Which I’ve started. With the help of a couple of CP’s, I write. We get together on the weekends and have writing sessions. And it works. Now I just need to learn how to write by myself again; I need to re-learn how to schedule time to write, to get away from everyone else and just put everything else on mute while I get into the zone and write – even if all I get down is a couple of paragraphs.

So, that’s basically what my day-to-day life is like. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not awe-inspiring or remarkable. But my goal is to make it a life where writing occurs more frequently, with more fervor and inspiration.


A/N: My 12 year old brother came by as I was typing this up and said, “Why must you be so hard on yourself? And why are you writing THIS and complaining when you could be writing your book right now?”
To this I say, “Touché little man. Touché.” (He’s absolutely right, you know.)


Vanessa is a Sales Assistant at Kate Walker & Co., a book and gift sales agency located in Toronto. She also has a book publishing certificate under her belt. Currently, Vanessa is working on RIFT, a YA fantasy novel, and a Children’s non-fiction series. She also geeks out over stuff at Something Geeky.

29 Responses to “Why We’re Not As Cool As You Originally Thought: Vanessa Di Gregorio”

  1. Ashley May 26, 2011 at 12:15 AM #

    Don’t you just love little brothers? 😛

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 1:25 PM #

      I DO! They simplify everything and make so much sense. 😀

  2. Susan May 26, 2011 at 2:03 AM #

    Brava! What an honest, brilliant post. Thanks for opening up and admitting that you procrastinate because you know what? Um…we all do. Maybe it’s with other things, though–for me, it’s with learning German. I’ve lived here 2 years and I still don’t know much more than I what I learned in the first 2 months. I still can’t carry on a conversation that isn’t in present or simple past tense. I know I should go out and just immerse myself more. I know I should watch German TV and read more German books/magazines/whatever. I know I should care more about how poorly I speak when I’m in a non-familiar situation, but… I just don’t. I never seem to find the time to squeeze in that studying.

    So yeah. Thanks for this, V. You’ve reminded me that we ALL have our procrastinations, our goals that we don’t quite reach (or not quite as quickly as we’d maybe like). And that makes me feel better about it all. 🙂

    P.S. I think your life sounds pretty glamorous.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 1:34 PM #

      Haha, thanks Sooz!

      It’s something I know I need to fix; and it’s not the only thing I procrastinate on. I procrastinate on my art, on blogging (lately especially), on… well, ANYTHING, really. It just seems to have impacted my writing the most. And what makes it even MORE infuriating is that I think about writing, and drawing, and painting, and blogging A LOT!

      It’s a bat habit that I’ve fallen into. I’m glad I have people to help me out of it though!

      (And as terrible as this sounds, it’s comforting to know that I’m not the only person doing it)

      P.S. But my life isn’t! I get home at 6:30-7:00 pm every night and try to cram in as much as I can in the 3-3 and a half hours of free time I have. Long commutes really suck!

  3. linda May 26, 2011 at 4:47 AM #

    I struggle a lot with procrastinating too. I’ve been meaning to write a novel for years but somehow never got around to it. I read tons of books and blog posts about writing, thought of several ideas, daydreamed about writing… but didn’t actually write much (a paragraph or page here and there). I can so relate to thinking that I can’t measure up to the people who write every single day. But I’ve decided I do want to be a writer, so I’m going to take it more seriously from now on. Thanks for the wonderfully honest post.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 5:24 PM #

      Thank YOU Linda!

      It’s hard. It’s one thing to think about it, and another thing entirely to write it. Thinking up stories is the easy part – it’s writing them down that seems to be difficult.

      I hope, by admitting to pretty much everyone that I have this problem, that I’ll be able to tackle it head-on.

  4. LoChase May 26, 2011 at 6:29 AM #

    I am probably one of the biggest procrastinators in the world and I feel it really hinders my writing. I try to sit down and write, only to be by distracted by something else that needs to get done at that very moment. And I just got new CPs who are awesome! And it’s taking me forever to get through their work because I’m procrastinating! They’re just so dedicated and it feels like I’m not and that’s when the doubts about myself start to kick in. So I completely get where you’re coming from. Thanks for such an honest post! I don’t feel so alone in my procrastination. Something I desperately need to work on! 😉

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 5:57 PM #

      Yeah, sometimes it takes me forever to get through my CPs’ work – which is so awful, cause they get back to me so quickly. I’m finding that when I do the writing jams (which means I take my laptop and meet up with them at a coffee shop), I find I can write AND read through and critique their work.

      Sometimes I think the key to less procrastinating is leaving the house.

      I’m glad admitting that I’m a procrastinator to the extreme isn’t as alienating to you guys as I worried it would be! We can all work on kicking our butts into shape together!

  5. Sierra Gardner May 26, 2011 at 10:10 AM #

    I’m so in the same boat with you. I’ve spent the last two years in a VERY demanding Master’s program as well as working part time and maintaining a busy social life outside of work. I feel really bad that my writing has only been sporadic because there just isn’t enough time in the day. I’m going to try and start doing a ’20 minutes a day’ writing routine and start increasing it from there.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 6:04 PM #

      I feel like once you get into the habit of NOT writing (because of a busy schedule), it’s hard to get back into the swing of things. I mean, when I first started writing I did it SO often – but I had so much more free time then. And while I had a lot of hobbies back then too, I didn’t feel so overwhelmed by everything.

      And half the time I just start rereading what I’ve already written when I DO get around to opening up my WIP (another VERY bad habit of mine) – and then I don’t write anything new, but just edit what I already have. Or I reread to get back into the story, and then just get distracted.

      And everyone is different, right? I’m the kind of person who needs to get into the zone and write write write for a few hours. Other people can just pick up right where they left off and write for a few minutes here and there. I think we just need to figure out what works for each of us individually, and then set aside time. Whether that’s 20 minutes a day, or 4 hours on a Sunday.

  6. Ella May 26, 2011 at 10:53 AM #

    Thanks for this post; I actually really really identify with this and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.

    I /think/ about my story almost constantly for every hour I’m not working (and sometimes even then >.>). But whenever I actually have free time to write, I almost always procrastinate. It doesn’t help that my books tend to linger in the brainstorming/planning stage for ages and ages, and that I tend to expand upon the premises so often the entire structure of the story changes. At this rate I feel like I’m never “ready” to start writing the book. I’ve tried pantsing – in fact, I used to do that pretty easily with lesser projects – but it just doesn’t seem to work for something I have so many hopes and ideas for.

    What I ended up doing was just clawing time out of my schedule to write every day, even if it was just a character profile or a page of notes or some scribbled brainstorming in a notebook rather than actual narrative practice. I set a daily word count and made a point to make up any days I missed. I guess that helps me because even if I have major beginner’s block, I’m still forcing myself to contribute to the story every day.

    Now if I could just actually /start/ it I’d be happy forever. |D But thank you for this honest and inglorious post; it really helped.

    • Mac_V May 26, 2011 at 10:56 AM #

      My favorite motivational quote: “If we wait for the moment when everything is ready, we shall never begin.” — Ian Turgenev.

      Write this out, plaster it on your wall, and write. Then, when you get distracted, if it’s big enough it will remind you why you sat down in the first place. 🙂

      • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 6:12 PM #

        New favourite quote EVER.

        Well, next to my other fave quote :p

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 6:11 PM #

      I do the same! My story is constantly evolving, even when I’m not writing it. And then it evolves some more when I DO get around to writing.

      That quote Mac V mentioned is seriously THE BEST QUOTE EVER (seriously, going up somewhere). I mean, sometimes you just have to take the leap. And if it changes, you keep writing and you go back at the end and change it if it needs to be changed. And sometimes you might find that something doesn’t work; so there will always be change, even if you do plot out the entire story chapter by chapter.

      I love the idea that you write out character profiles and pages of notes – that’s such a great idea, especially when you have writer’s block. Fleshing out details is very inspiring, I find!

      Hopefully I’ll be able to set a word count – but I think it’s nice to just have a day where I devote all (or half of it) to writing.

      I’m finding that starting was easy (for RIFT, anyways), but I think (for a number of various reasons that I think I’ll blog about another time) I find it hard to continue the story, you know?

      We’ll have to egg each other on, Ella!

  7. Mac_V May 26, 2011 at 10:54 AM #

    You are not alone. I know NaNoWriMo gives me a kick in the butt to write everyday as well as the many people I tell that I am in fact participating in NaNoWriMo and THEY give me a kick in the butt as well. But I know the feeling. But when NaNoWriMo’s over and the adrenaline of it fades, I feel so overwhelmed by school and work and trying to keep up with friends that it *is* hard to sit down and write sometimes. Sometimes you need that random internet time to just give your brain a rest. I know following this blog keeps me motivated– having all of you guys telling us every day to write and sitting there with the examples of yourselves writing everyday and getting agents and publishing deals– that in itself is encouraging. The writing group is definitely a good thing to get into to get writing. I just got into one and it makes me want to write so much more. I think that’s the best thing to have to help get motivated to write– a cheering section. Knowing people want you to succeed is one of the best motivators I can think of.

    And you guys are a cheering section for all of us, and we for you. SO GO OUT THERE AND WRITE BECAUSE YOU’RE AWESOME AND WE KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!

    Mer 🙂

    P.S. I LOVE the Alot. I have the most awesome brother EVER because he had his girlfriend MAKE ME ONE. It’s ginormous and fluffy and has little claws and the one fang and everything. My brother’s way of encouraging me to write. ;p

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 6:18 PM #

      Is it bad that I really want to say, “THANK GOD I’M NOT ALONE!”? Cause I do. I really really do.

      Not in a I’m-glad-other-people-struggle-and-feel-like-crap way, but in a I’m-glad-I’m-not-alone and that this isn’t something only wrong with me.

      And yes, the rest of the LTWF girls are seriously THE most inspiring people I have ever met. They are all BRILLIANT! (How I ever became a part of this will forever remain a mystery to me! :p)

      Also, THANK YOU for the sweetest cheer ever! Seriously, I’m glad this blog is a community – I’m glad we all talk in the comments and do the live chats. This would be NOTHING without you ❤

      OH! And I demand photographic proof of this Alot you speak of!! (Really, I just want to see it – your brother's girlfriend is the coolest ever – as is your brother for thinking of it in the first place!)

  8. Sarah J. Maas May 26, 2011 at 1:10 PM #

    LOVED this post, V!!!!!! Your honesty is inspiring!!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 26, 2011 at 6:19 PM #

      Awww, thanks Sarah! ❤ Your EVERYTHING is inspiring! (I mean that too! I'm not making fun! <3)

  9. Schneider Rancy May 26, 2011 at 5:47 PM #

    No shame in admitting the truth! I’ve also found myself with this problem lately: for the past two weeks or so, I keep finding myself reading *about* writing, or else reading other novels, and never working on my own. On the one hand, I feel extremely guilty about this, particularly because I always seem to be thinking about my writing at inconvenient times; still, on the other hand…

    Well. Suffice to say, Youtube has some pretty fascinating stuff. 😉

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 27, 2011 at 10:17 AM #

      Sometimes you just need a break, right? I think I’ve just gotten so used to taking breaks from writing that I’m starting to find it hard to start writing again!

      Damn the internet for being so enticing and interesting! :p

  10. Madeleine May 26, 2011 at 10:01 PM #

    We should hang out and procrastinate together!

    I am constantly overwhelmed by how little I get done every day. And though I procrastinate, that’s not all that takes up my time and shoves writing onto the “I’ll get to that some other time” list. Unfortunately, my online presence (specifically my blog and twitter page) are suffering as well. I have no idea what I’ll do when I actually have college or a job!

    When you reach some state of enlightenment and are above procrastination, tell me the secret. 😉

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 27, 2011 at 10:21 AM #

      … Is it sad that I totally DO want to hang out and procrastinate? Hahah!

      And MY online presence has been suffering as well! (I mean, when was the LAST time I posted here [and I mean a REAL post, not a Sat Grab Bag]? Over a month ago? I used to post here 2-3 a month!) So I totally relate with you!

      But you know, at times I wonder if I just burned myself out, you know? Like maybe I did TOO much, and now I’m just too burned out to keep up with my old pace. OR, maybe I’m getting old. Either way, I’m starting to think that I also need to pace myself – and not try and do EVERYTHING all at once!

      Oh, and if I DO reach some sort of absolute enlightenment, I will be sure to share! :p

  11. savannahjfoley May 27, 2011 at 8:23 AM #

    I procrastinate a ton, too. Right now I’m in a phase where I’m writing every day, but I still spend way too much time on the internet. And those phases when I just can’t bring myself to even look at my ms? Incredibly depressing and bad-feeling. That’s kind of why I make a big deal of my wordcount… when I actually have a wordcount, lol.

    You’re not alone, V.

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 27, 2011 at 10:22 AM #

      YOU DEPRESS ME THE MOST! (Haha, I kid, I kid!)

      You are a writing FIEND, Sav. When I see your word counts soar, all I can think is, “HOW DOES SHE DO THAT?!?!”

      You’re amazing my dear ❤

  12. Asia Morela May 27, 2011 at 11:43 PM #

    Wow, you’ve just described ME. 😐 😛

    I feel you. Things I’ve started lately to try and write anyway? Writing nights/sessions via a message board, and a “one sentence (of fiction) a day” challenge. Let’s see if it works… At the very least, it doesn’t hurt to try! 🙂

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 28, 2011 at 3:39 PM #

      Yeah, I’ve been thinking about doing things like skype writing sessions (since one of my awesome CPs is moving back to Calgary). It’s nice to have someone egging me on, you know?

      And one sentence a day is better than NO sentence! Maybe I should try that too! 😀

      • Hayleigh June 4, 2011 at 10:36 AM #

        I was JUST going to say that we are going to have to start having Skype writing dates!! Thank you so much for writing out everything that I have ben feeling lately. It is comforting to know that there are others out there who call themselves “writer” and yet just can’t seem to actually get down to business and write. I think if we cheer each other on, we’ll get better, and remember how to do it. GO VANESSA GO!

  13. Maya May 28, 2011 at 8:43 AM #

    Quite a wise little brother ya got there. 🙂

    I have the same problem! Including the games (currently obsessed with Dragon Age) and work. Glad I’m not the only one!

    • Vanessa Di Gregorio May 28, 2011 at 3:37 PM #

      That he is!!

      And I LOVE Dragon Age! Are you going to watch the Dragon Age webseries w/ Felicia Day when it starts?

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