5 Tips for Beating Procrastination in Your Writing
Which is worse: staring at a blank page and not knowing what to write or staring at the ceiling above your bed realizing that a week (or a month!) has passed without working on your book?
I’ll go with staring at the ceiling any day!
NOTHING is worse than flipping to a new month in your calendar and realizing that you haven’t done A Single Thing to bring you closer to your goal of writing a book. That, month after month, will kill you and your dreams.
So, let’s for a moment assume that you really DO want to write your book and get your message out there… (Because if you just want to TALK about it forever, that’s a different problem!)
How can you overcome the natural tendency to procrastinate your writing?
Here are 5 tips to help you out!
1. Turn OFF Social Media
Do you remember life before Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter? I do! I remember when the Internet wasn’t always “ON” but was a privilege we bought as 100 minutes a month for $100 a month!
If you were still paying for Internet by the minute, I guarantee you’d spend a lot less time cruising Facebook!Writing isn’t an exercise in self-discipline. It’s making the choice, every day, to write. Click To Tweet
There are a dozen apps that you can install that will lock you out of social media – if you need that. For me, just closing the Facebook tab is enough. (And I do NOT have the Facebook messenger app installed on my phone!) I’ve ALSO turned off all notifications (especially the sounds) for all my social media accounts. When you don’t have those “dings” chirping at you a million times a day, it’s easier to ignore your online social life.
If you need one more reason:
Take a look at the feed of somebody who’s life you envy. The one who looks PERFECT from the outside. The one who is always organized, lives in a net and tidy house that is color-coordinated, and ALWAYS finishes projects. Then imagine that their life IS perfect… It’s exactly how it looks from the outside.
Wouldn’t you rather be the friend that OTHER friends are envious of – because of your PUBLISHED BOOK? Be the role model for getting.it.done so your other friends can think YOUR life is perfect. (It won’t be perfect, but having your book written and published can be the truth!)
2. Hone your Bullsh*t meter for when you’re working (or not!)
How often is your “research” just a fancy way of procrastinating? I completely understand that for most of us, especially writing non-fiction, a certain amount of research IS required.
- But are you focused?
- Is it necessary before you move on?
Or are you following the rabbit holes of the Internet and gobbling down click bait the way bugs eat insect poison… and then die leaving piles of little insect corpses in the corner of the room?
Because, trust me, watching a TV show is NOT research even if it IS remotely related to your topic… Here’s an advanced tip when you’re procrastinating your dreams: Imagine the actors in your FAVORITE show or movie. Imagine all they had to do to get to where they are. Send them an energetic “Thank You” for the entertainment they’ve brought you. Now imagine what YOUR life would be like if that same actor hadn’t pursued their dream… YOUR life would be the poorer for it – and by not writing, you’re making your reader’s life poorer!
3. Organize your space – then keep it that way!
Ahhhh, the clean desk. It has been proven that we do better in an environment that is neat and visually pleasing. So, take the time – the hour, the afternoon, the weekend and ORGANIZE your writing space.
Then keep it that way!
(This is me laughing at my own advice!)
I’m the WORST when it comes to a clean desk! I always have piles – although I have instituted a once-a-month straighten and organize. I’ve trained myself to be able to not see them and just write. Because I will NOT use my inability to love file folders as an excuse for not writing! (After 11 years in the tax office, I STILL have dreams about file folders. And nightmares about the papercuts a file folder can create!)
In a pinch, I’ll COVER the crap on my desk with a big sheet of blank paper so it’s hidden. (Or scoop it all up to a table so the surface of the desk is clean, at least!)
The real tip here is to not let clutter become an excuse not to write. Either clean it up and keep it that way (like my beautiful gold-filled desk drawers) or don’t clean it up and stop using it as an excuse!
4. Move your body
Sometimes you’re not procrastinating so much as stagnating. Too many hours sitting means that you’re probably all hunched over. You haven’t been drinking enough water – because if you WERE you’d been up by now to pee!
Maybe your foot is asleep or your fingers are cold.
And the idea of scooting over to Facebook is looking mighty appealing…
So MOVE. Get up from your desk and boogie! Two of my favorites are to dance around to my favorite YouTube music video. I sing, I wiggle, I’m glad my neighbors are far away because I can neither dance OR sing!
But that’s still an inside activity so another go-to is to walk outside. But instead of making this a huge production I go outside and walk around the outside of my house – round and round. FAST. My house has at 365º sidewalk so I don’t even have to put on shoes!
And while you’re up – fill up your water glass and chug it down. Then refill it and bring it back to your desk. Work in a really focused manner, sipping that fresh glass, until nature calls. Your brain will function better and you’ll be naturally moving a bit more.
5. Craft micro-goals and then hold yourself accountable
Writing a book is NOT about the self-discipline to sit down and write for three hours a day. I know very few people who can do ANY task for 3 hours a day with complete mono-focus. Or even an hour!
So thinking that self-discipline is the key to overcoming procrastination around your writing is a recipe for making yourself crazy. (OR thinking you’re a failure!)
Instead, create a micro-goal for yourself – and then stick to it.
Micro-Goals for Writing (to be used EVERY DAY)
1/2 page of NEW writing per day – no matter how long it takes you
15 minutes of NEW writing per day – no matter how many words/sentences that is
If you’re in the zone, write more! If you’re struggling that day, meet your micro-goal and move on to something else.
Imagine how much writing adds up at the end of a week if ALL you’re writing 1/2 a page a day (2.5 pages) or in a month (15 pages). Now think back to the weeks or months that have passed while you were bogged down in procrastination…
Pretty humbling, right?
Writing isn’t an exercise in self-discipline. It’s about making the choice, every day, not to procrastinate and to write.
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