“How writers can stop procrastinating” isn’t just a question of the writing life. Sometimes it’s the question. After all, if you’re not writing, then all the other good writing habits and knowledge you’ve collected are just going to sit in the back of your brain collecting dust. Fortunately, there’s a simple fix.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
Your one precious hour of writing time, carved from the demands of your “real” life, has finally arrived. Your characters are poised, frozen in midair, waiting breathlessly for you to tell them what happens next. You scrunch into a comfortable position in your desk chair, poise your fingers over the keyboard, and…
Wait, is that smudge on the monitor?
Better find a Kleenex and wipe that off, so it doesn’t distract you.
And while you’re at it, grab a soda from the kitchen, just in case you get thirsty.
Might as well bag the garbage while you’re there—which reminds you, when you get back to the computer, you better do a quick bit of research to see if you can find out when plastic garbage sacks were invented.
And, what the heck, might as well check Facebook one last time while you’re at it.
What’s it going to hurt, right? It’ll only take a sec.
Are You Stumbling Into the Wicked Cycle of Procrastination?
The problem is that one “sec” leads to another, and, before you know it, you glance at the clock to find you’ve wasted fifty minutes of your writing time not writing.
Much as we love writing, as soon we sit down and take one look at that intimidating blinking cursor, our tendency is to start procrastinating, usually with seemingly innocent minutiae that adds up before we know it.
It’s a wicked cycle to defeat once it gets started. You get into the habit of thinking you need these procrastination techniques to “ease” you into writing or to “warm you up.” So you check our email, plan your grocery list, or straighten all the pictures in the room.
Long-time crime writer Lawrence Block had to play one game of solitaire for every page he wrote.
How Writers Can Stop Procrastinating… in Just 3 Words
At times, figuring out how writers can stop procrastinating seems like trying to find the antidote to an incurable disease. Fortunately, however, I have an infallible solution, and it can be summed up in three little words:
The Fool-Proof Plan for Overcoming Procrastination
If the formula sounds simple, that’s because it is. Here’s all you have to do:
- As soon as you sit down at your computer, start typing.
- Don’t wait for the perfect moment of inspiration.
- Don’t wait for the right words.
- Start typing, even if all you come up with is utter garbage.
An object in motion will stay in motion. Once those fingers start flying over the keyboard, they’re that much more likely to keep flying.
Which Habits Are You Choosing to Create?
If you start procrastinating by letting yourself do unimportant little tasks during writing time, you’re likely to keep right on procrastinating.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get away with that one peek out the window to see if the sun is still shining (And then I’ll start writing!). Maybe you will only take one peek; but, then again, maybe you’ll end up staring at the clouds for the next ten minutes, instead of writing that much farther into your manuscript.
Procrastination is only a monster when you give it the opportunity to grow. Scare it away right at the start by awing it with the thunder of your furious typing!
Wordplayers, tell me your opinion? What do you think is the best approach for how writers can stop procrastinating? Tell me in the comments!
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