We all do it. I’ll start tomorrow or I need to go to the market first. Everyone, yes everyone, procrastinates at some point. For writers procrastination is a hobby in itself. Some poorly wired part of our brain seems to relish putting things off a little longer or waiting for some perfect alignment of the planets before we can begin work. There is a cure for procrastination.
The simplest way to beat procrastination is to simply get started. Suck it up and dive straight in no matter what your mind is telling you to do. Sit down and start writing. Sounds easy enough right? Unfortunately it isn’t that easy for most writers. Most of the time I can sit down and start writing and beat procrastination with sheer willpower. For those times that I find procrastination winning, I try these methods and usually win the battle.
Don’t Use Classic Excuses
I have to pick up the kids in an hour or mom will be here in two hours are classics. So you sit and wait for those hours to pass by when you could have used all that time to get started. I often tell people to finish what you start and I stand by that statement where writers are concerned. However, using that as an excuse to not start is a great way to fail. Finish what you start but it’s ok to stop and have lunch with mom or pick the kids up from school. The key is to get started.
Use A Checklist And Set Daily Goals
Create a list of everything you need to accomplish on a particular day. Convince yourself that you will starve to death the following day if all tasks are not completed. Maybe that is a bit harsh, but you get the point. Make yourself accountable and develop habits that help you stay on task. It isn’t easy to train yourself to just get started and wrap up your daily goals, but that’s what you have to do to beat procrastination. Don’t forget to schedule time for yourself and your family.
Disconnect From The Internet And Turn The TV Off
Email, Facebook, Twitter and the like can eat up a few hours before you know it. TV is the world champion of distractions. All of these things have to go while you are writing. You can use the internet for fact checking after you have finished writing. Use a notepad to keep up with things you need to verify so you can check them when you are finished writing. Resist any urges to watch TV “for a few minutes” or take a social media break.
Break Large Projects Up Into Small Tasks
Let’s use writing a novel as an example. Writing a novel can be a daunting task and it takes more than a day to complete. Break the novel writing project up into daily goals such as:
- Complete an outline of the novel
- Set daily word count goals
- Set time limits or time blocks for completing daily goals
Keep A Log
Do not log progress or completed daily goals; instead keep a log of every time you procrastinated. Record each time you fail to write and watched funny cat videos on Youtube instead. Keep track of when you got off track with your daily writing goals and how long you were off track. Review that log daily so you can see how much time you wasted the day before. This method worked so well for me that I still keep a log of any time I waste to keep myself honest about my daily activities.
None of these methods will work until you make up your mind to beat procrastination. Set daily goals and stick to them, but make sure you set some time aside for fun.
Did you find these tips useful? Do you have any tips? I’d love to hear about your experiences with procrastination and how you are beating it. Leave a comment below if you feel like sharing.