You know what procrastination is. The “I’ll get around to it” feeling. Everyone slides into it on occasion. Writers seem to be especially prone. Let’s face it, writing is hard. You have to come up with something new and original, and present it in such a way that other people read it, and with no cues such as body language or intonation and know exactly what you mean.
Writing is scary. You can (and will) be misunderstood, misquoted, and underpaid. You will be criticized, sometimes by people who can’t do half as good a job as you can. You will have times when you seem to have so many ideas that they will fly out your ears or burst through your skull if you don’t hurry up and write them down, then stare at a blank page with an equally blank brain.
Writing is imperfect. You are an imperfect person. You are not capable of perfection. You will mistype, misuse words, mean one thing but accidentally imply another, and then not notice until it’s too late.
What does any of this have to do with procrastination? Everything!
Procrastination is putting off something that’s hard in favor of something easier, or less challenging. Procrastination is putting off something scary and challenging in favor of the comfortable and predictable. Procrastination says if I can’t do something perfect, why should I bother doing it at all?
So how do you combat procrastination? Mostly, it’s a mental thing. Realizing the reasons you procrastinate can be a big help. Instead of saying ‘It’s too hard’, try embracing the challenge. Writing is scary? Tell yourself that no one has to read it but you. Embrace your imperfection. Realizing you don’t have to be (in fact can’t) be perfect, can be very freeing.
Making a deadline helps. Real or artificial, just telling yourself something must be done by a certain time can help you focus. Though, it helps to add a few teeth to the artificial deadlines, or you end up not caring too much if you slip up. I participate in National Novel Writing Month. I’ve tried writing a novel in a month six times. I succeed three, semi-succeeded once, failed once, and am in the process of working on one now (I’m cheating. A lot.)
Having someone to talk to, compare notes, nag you, and hold it over your head if you don’t write also helps. Just choose carefully. This should be annoying enough that you write so you don’t have to hear it, but not so annoying that you ruin a friendship or estrange a family member.
I’ve heard stories of people putting aside large portions of money and giving it to a friend to mail to some organization the writer despises if they don’t finish a certain goal by a certain date. I’ve never tried this because I am usually perpetually broke, but I’ll bet it works.
Maybe you can make a friendship with another writer and the two of you can encourage each other and spur each other on to your goals. Maybe you can ask your family for help.
Do the above answers always help? Heavens, no! I’ve not heard any method that is sure-fire one hundred percent accurate. If you know one, let me know. But it can help. A lot.
P. S. The reason I didn’t post last week was simply to demonstrate procrastination. That’s all. Has nothing to do with writer’s block and/or procrastination on my part.