Writers love writing and want to do it all the time, right? Well, sort of. Sometimes the words will flow out of you like a waterfall, and at other times you’d rather do anything else but write. It doesn’t mean you don’t like what you’re working on, but writing is mentally tough. It may be you just need to take a break. But don’t let procrastination keep you permanently away from your writing. Here are seven ideas to help you kick procrastination to the curb and get going!
1) Try the Pomodoro Technique
This technique was created in the 1980s by Francesco Cirillo, and it remains a simple way of managing your time. You set a timer for 25 minutes and concentrate on the task in hand. When the time is up, you take a 5-minute break. After four of these intervals, you take a longer 15-minute break, then start the cycle again. Each interval is called a Pomodoro, from the Italian word for tomato as the inventor used a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. It’s easy to download an extension for your browser or you can simply use a stopwatch. I’ve found this is a really good way to get stuff done, and just two Pomodoros equals nearly an hours worth of focus time. You can set up your intervals to whatever works for you, of course – it can be as flexible as you need it to be.
2) Use a schedule
Procrastination often stems from thinking about all the other things you have to do as well as write. So you end up putting off your writing to do them. Enter the schedule. When you divide up your time to do all the things you want to (including writing), you should be able to focus distractions. If you want to, make it flexible so you don’t swap one worry for another. If that washing absolutely has to be done, shuffle your writing time an hour later, or even over to the next day. If you want to learn more about how schedules can help you write, check out my post about them here.
3) Block the Internet
Ah the Internet, the great time suck of the world (after Netflix). If you want to get anything done these days, I’m afraid you’ll need to clip the internets’ wings so to speak! Unless you have super duper willpower, I’d suggest using an internet blocker to help you. There are plenty of free ones you can download onto all your devices so you can’t use any of them to get around the block! These useful tools can usually be set up in various ways. Plug in a schedule so they’re only on at certain times or set them to just block selected websites, so you can still use the Internet for ad-hoc research.
4) Reward yourself
Of course, writing is rewarding – but it’s not the only thing. And it can sometimes feel like a slog. When it does, it can help to reward yourself with a little treat for doing it. It doesn’t need to be fancy, a glass of wine, or an episode of your favourite TV show for example. And you can scale it so if you finish a chapter or a draft, you get something bigger like a video game or pair of shoes.
5) Picture the future
Okay, so daydreaming is a way of procrastinating that’s true. But it’s also a way to kick your butt into gear. Picturing the future and where you want to be can be great to get you motivated. There’s nothing wrong with imagining your words in print, your book in the local bookshop or your article headling a national newspaper. As long as you take a realistic breath and realise it will never happen if you don’t write it in the first place. Visualise what you want – then knuckle down and get to it!
6) Find your motivation
Sometimes you procrastinate because you’re just not motivated or inspired. Unfortunately, you can’t wait for the muse to hit, you have to go and find it. One way to do this is by finding something to motivate you. I find reading the Writing Magazine a sure-fire way to get motivated. You could try reading blogs or watching YouTube videos from fellow writers. Or what about reading something by your favourite author? All you need is a spark and you’ll be writing away in no time.
7) Take it one step at a time
The idea of writing a whole book is extremely daunting so it’s easy to put it off. But no-one writes a book all at once. So break it down. Think of your book as a series of scenes. A scene becomes part of a chapter, a chapter becomes part of a draft, and that draft will be re-worked into another draft until eventually, you’ll have your book. Or you could try thinking of it in terms of word count. You may only manage 100 words today but that’s still 100 more words than you had yesterday. And 100 words a day is 700 a week, which is 2800 a month, and 36,500 a year. It all adds up.
What things do you do to overcome procrastination? Let me know in the comments!
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