I don’t know about you, but I’m a great procrastinator. I totally agree with William Rands and Aaron Burr, who both had their own versions of “Don’t do today what you can put off until tomorrow.”
My to do list is a yard long, because I keep putting off the things I don’t have to do today; the things I should have done a long time ago, but don’t fall in the tyranny of the urgent; the things I think are going to take longer than I want to spend on them; and the things I just don’t have time for. I even have a few things on that list that go back years! I plan to get to them one day—really!
There’s one place, however, where I am trying hard to beat procrastination—in my writing habits. Here’s a few tips I’ve come with along my writing journey to help stop writer’s procrastination.
- Set a firm goal. Tell yourself “I WILL … NO MATTER WHAT … WRITE ____________”(fill in the blank)
- Set a reasonable goal. Don’t promise yourself to finish your book in a month, unless you know you can write at that pace. You can always increase a goal with less guilt than you can decrease a goal.
- Set a firm time to write. It doesn’t matter when you write, just that you write. If 2:00 a.m. works for you, do it. If twice a week works, then commit to that. Find the time that works for you and commit to it. I found committing a day to the task and telling everyone not to bother me because it is my writing day works for me. I don‘t make appointments,
- Do the writing in chunks. To keep the project fresh, so you’ll want to keep coming back to it, don’t spend the whole day writing. Make 1000 words, 5 pages, or even two pages a day your goal.
- Write down the steps you need to finish the job – research, plotting, synopsis, query, number of pages you’ll do a day. Check each one off as you complete it. Keep the checklist and look at it when you feel like you’re getting nowhere. Seeing all those checkmarks will give you a boost.
- Be held accountable in order to get the job done. Promise a portion of the book each week or bi- weekly to a critique partner. Tell them not to let you off the hook. Remember when they badger you for the next chapter they are helping you, at your request.
- Delegate non-writing related jobs. Let someone else cook, clean, shop, etc. while you devote time to the project. Hire them, bribe them, or do whatever is necessary to convince your family to help. Tell them they won’t have to become “writing widows” if they’re willing to help with the day-to-day jobs. If they buy it, be sure to pop your head out of the office and keep your end of the bargain.
What are some of the things that keep you procrastinating about your writing?