By Ruth Barringham
Procrastination is a writer’s worst enemy.
It robs you of your creative talent.
It steals money from you because if you can’t write, you can’t earn.
But here’s the thing about procrastination.
It doesn’t stop you from writing.
It only stops you from STARTING to write.
Once you have a project started, it’s easy to keep going.
It’s getting started that’s hard.
It’s applying backside to chair that’s difficult sometimes.
The good news is that if you know exactly what you’re going to be doing when you sit dow to write, then procrastination is easy to banish from your life.
And there are three really easy steps for getting rid of procrastination.
1. Break It Down and Make It Manageable.
Stop thinking that you have a whole project to do.
Break it down into smaller tasks.
So instead of thinking that you have an article to write, tell yourself you have an article outline to write.
Or if you have a book to write, tell yourself you only have ideas for your book to write.
When you think about starting a whole project (article, book, etc) it’s easy to procrastinate because you don’t know where to start.
That’s because you can’t do a project. But you can work through the steps to completing it.
A project is made up of steps (tasks) that you need to complete in a certain order.
So what you need to do is list the steps you need to take.
So if you need to write a book, your list might be
- sales page/book blurb
Each of these tasks is made up of multiple steps too so you’d need to break each one down into do-able steps. Keep working like this until you know exactly what you need to do.
Then number each step so that you do them in the right order.
This is where having a good writing system is important. That way, every time you need to write a book you simply work your way through your system until the book is written.
Having a good system eliminates procrastination because you don’t need to think about what to do and instead can get straight down to work.
2. Time Your Efforts
It’s all too easy to get bogged down in what you’re doing and that can really slow you down.
Instead, use a timer. Set it for 25 minutes. Only work for this long and then get up and move away from your desk.
Take a 5 minute break and do something not related to writing or computers. Get a drink. Go to the toilet. Check the mail. Pat your dog. Just do something different for 5 minutes. This will help refresh your mind and sometimes it’s when the best ideas show up in a kind of “eureka!” style.
Or just keep writing until you feel like you need a break. And then take one. Don’t try and keep going if you’re feeling overwhelmed. It will just slow you down. Instead, stop and have a 5 minute break whenever your mind, or body, are tired. And sitting in one place in one position for two long can be physically difficult.
3. Do Your Writing
Once you’ve finished all the pre-writing tasks, it’s time to sit down and write.
Part of the prelim tasks should have been thoroughly outlining what you need to write.
You should have chapters outlined and ready to be written. Or if you’re writing articles, these should be outlined too, with a list of everything you want to cover.
If you have a good outline then the writing is simple.
In fact, by the time it comes to actually writing your book or articles, you should be looking forward to it because you know exactly what you’ll be writing.
But make sure you still write in 25 minute blocks so that you don’t get brain weary.
Taking regular breaks helps keep your mind fresh and the ideas flowing.
And that’s all there is to breaking the procrastination habit.
You simply need to list the steps you need to take, put them in order, outline your writing before you start, take regular breaks and then start writing.
It’s amazing how easy it is to start writing when you only have one thing to do at a time and you know that if you follow the steps it will be easy to start - and finish - writing.
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