Sandy Wright (Song of the Ancients) one of my writing partners, wore a tee-shirt to our weekly writing meeting. I immediately coveted it. Now, as a disclaimer, I finally have the other commandments under control. Stealing? Check. Killing? Check (well, except in my murder mysteries). Adultery? Check. But covet . . . I struggle with covet. Sigh.
Anyway, her shirt read: “Author: Putting the PRO in Procrastination since . . . I don’t know, I’ll look it up later.” Too funny. You can see why I coveted it.
A quick Internet search turned up some other clever procrastination sayings:
I’m taking care of my procrastination issues . . . just you wait and see.
Procrastination: Working tomorrow for a better today
Procrastinators Unite . . . Tomorrow
I procrastinate and that’s okay because I’m 10 times less likely to become a serial killer.
I got so much procrastination done today.
And so on. Very funny stuff. Unless, um, you’re one of “them.”
You know what I mean. Now, of course, all of us uh, put off “stuff”. Occasionally, that is. All of us, at some point, find junk-drawer-cleaning more engaging than a blank page.
You’re not who I am addressing today. I’m talking to the professional procrastinator. The owner of The Big P. The one who would rather start a fourth blog (Who, me?) than edit pages for submission to an editor.
Yeah, you! (and me)
So what is the best thinking about how to beat back the procrastinator bug? Try out some of these ideas and see if they help.
First, you should examine why you are procrastinating. Some authors suffer from “fear of success”. “What if my book is good and then I can’t write another. I’d be a one-book wonder.”
Others suffer from “fear of failure”. “I’m a fraud. What makes me think I can do this? I’m just no good.” In both cases, in the author’s mind, finishing the book is NOT an option, so the author finds myriad reasons to delay the work.
Some authors delay a task because they don’t want to work that hard. They are facing 300 pages of revisions and edits and they know they will be difficult. The author has spotted numerous troublesome areas that have to be fixed. Will the book need to be re-written in various places? Will 50K words have to be eliminated?
Some authors (and this is my main issue, I believe) are just not very good finishers. They love new beginnings. The next bright and sparkly book idea attracts long before the current opus is done. They want to move on and feel the thrill of discovery in the new project.
Whatever your reason for procrastinating, as Cherry Adair puts it, “Finish the damn book.” You have to wrestle procrastination to the floor or deliver the knockout punch to it. Writing a book means you have a complete story, and that you not only prettied it up (with edits) but that you revised it until it’s as good as it’s gonna get.
1) Stop thinking about the task and get started. Too much thinking hinders. Set a time to start. Just getting started creates positive energy. Worry creates negative energy.
2) Make a list of the steps needed to finish the task and post them in your work area. When you do the first one, cross it off and give yourself a treat (like checking email).
3) Set a timer and work on your dreaded task for 15 minutes (30? 45? You decide).
4) Do the hardest thing first. The rest will not be so difficult to gear up for.
5) Make a list of what NOT finishing will mean. Don’t do the pros. Only the cons.
6) Blab to the world that you’re going to finish The Great American Novel by November 1st so you can do NaNoWriMo. Ask friends to hold you accountable.
7) Find the place in your environment where you are most productive. Make it more so by not allowing in distractions (Internet, phone messaging, etc.) until a goal is met (# of pages, # of minutes, particular task).
8) Visualize before going to sleep each night what finishing will look like and feel like. You create a mindset for success at your most vulnerable time—right before sleep.
9) Confront your fear. What is holding you back from completing the task? Sit your issue down and face it down. Tell your issue you’re not going to be hostage any longer.
10) DECIDE to stop procrastinating. Yes. Decide. It was a decision you made to avoid the task (even if subconsciously), so consciously decide to stop.
Bloggers love it when others share their posts. If you found this helpful, would you spread the word on your social media outlets? Here are some copy/paste messages.
Facebook: Writers, do you own The Big P? We’re talking PROCRASTINATION. Sharon Arthur Moore has a listicle post about causes and what you can do about your Big P issue. Read 10 Procrastination Beaters to see if it helps. http://bit.ly/2vwwSWp
Twitter: #Writers, does The Big P (Procrastination) hold you captive? @good2tweat ids causes and 10 solutions http://bit.ly/2vwwSWp