Procrastination: The Bane of a Writers Existence
We writers have all experienced the feeling before. Perched in front of a blank computer screen, the cursor blinking relentlessly—on and off, on and off—as if daring us to type in a word, any word, to begin our literary quest. But alas, the magic stays in the bottle and to compensate we amuse ourselves with other things: shopping, Starbucks, Facebook—anything but writing. We promise ourselves we’ll get to it later and knock out a fantastic piece until, with deadlines looming, we panic.
Thankfully, procrastination, and the dread associated with it, can be overcome. But first, let’s look at the reasons why we procrastinate. Procrastination is usually a symptom of some other problem: poor preparation, perfectionism, a fear of failure or rejection, or just a simple lack of motivation and interest. The longer you procrastinate writing a piece, the harder it becomes to start. However, even if you put off a task for weeks or months, it’s never too late to start. Starting isn’t easy, but it’s doable. The best part: once you start, you’ll usually find the difficulty you imagined is usually worse than the actual work involved.
Consider these five techniques to “jump start” your writing and avoid procrastination:
1) Organize your ideas: Staring at a blank screen does little to get the creative juices flowing. Instead, create a mind map as a way of building a blueprint for your piece.
2) Freewrite: If you simply cannot come up with any ideas, forget about a logical flow for a few moments and jot down any thoughts associated with the topic at hand. Don’t worry about getting it right the first time, just get something down.
3) Set mini-goals: Writing a 5,000 word piece, one that’ll probably require several hours of work, is a big job. Break this job up. Work in blocks of 500 words or thirty minutes.
4) Eliminate distractions: Work in a quiet space. Turn off your cell phone and, if possible, your internet connection. Escape from people who demand your attention. Each distraction pulls your focus away from the task at hand.
5) Reward yourself: You’ve finally completed your piece and you can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Do more than that: go get that latte at Starbucks or those new pair of shoes at Macy’s—you’ve earned it.
Let’s face it: we all procrastinate, especially when it comes to writing. A little procrastination is normal, but by using some of these steps, we can redirect the high beams of our mental energies onto our own work. Start your engines.
Written by Lori Jackson