Is your novel, query letter, or book proposal waiting for you to read this article on overcoming procrastination for writers? These five ways to start writing will help you stay focused and productive, and achieve your writing goals.
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Before the tips, a quip:
“Procrastination is the fear of success,” says American motivational speaker Denis Waitley. “People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.”
Are you afraid of success? I’ve been struggling with procrastination – a publisher has requested three sample chapters of See Jane Soar and I’m taking longer that I should. But, I it’s not because I fear success. I’d just rather work on my paid assignments, because I know that book contracts are few and far between!
If procrastion has plagued you for ages, read Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now. And, here are five ways to get your writing going…
Overcoming Procrastination for Writers – 5 Ways to Start Writing
1. Remember Anne Lamott’s quip and tip about perfectionism. “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor,” she said. “It will keep you insane your whole life.” Your writing won’t be perfect, fellow scribes…but it will be done, and it will be yours. I created a new way to write and format my See Jane Soar sample chapters, and am a little nervous that the publisher won’t like them. But, I’m also happy that I’m writing them the way I want! To overcome procrastination, forget about being perfect. Instead, write the way your heart and head dictates – and stop trying to be perfect!
2. Write for one hour. This is my favorite way to overcome procrastination: divide up my day and write in one-hour chunks. And, when I really don’t want to work on something (like my sample chapters because there’s no guarantee of publication), I set up a reward of wine, women, and song. After I reach my one-hour writing goal, I can par-tay!
3. Review what you’ve accomplished so far. To get into the zone (or awaken the writer’s muse), I re-read and revise the sample chapters I’ve already written. If I haven’t written anything yet, I read my book proposal or my published articles. If you want to start writing, you need to savor your past accomplishments. Use them as a springboard to future writing success!
4. Treat procrastination like a bad habit. Is your procrastination due to fear of success, or is it just a bad life habit? Regardless, if you treat it like a bad habit, and know that you can rid yourself of that habit because you want to be a successful writer. Breaking your bad habit doesn’t take as long as you think – it could be as simple as scheduling one-hour time slots to write (it worked for me). For more info, read 8 Tips for Breaking Bad Writing Habits.
5. Become aware of your “busywork.” You know when you’re procrastinating, fellow scribes. Instead of engaging in the stuff that keeps you from writing (busywork), sit still for a moment. Why are you so reluctant to write your novel, query letter, or book proposal? I struggle to write my sample chapters because I fear the publisher won’t offer a contract and my work will be for nothing. But when I really think about it, those sample chapters — whether or not the publisher accepts them — are improving my writing skills and taking me one step further in my writing career. Plus, I can use what I’ve written elsewhere. Realizing that helps me overcome procrastination and stay motivated to write.
Bonus Tip for Overcoming Procrastination for Writers: Plan a surprise attack, and tackle your novel or article when it’s least expecting it! (This is a famous writing quotation, which I can’t locate). I usually work on my sample chapters at the end of my day…but today, I’m beginning my day with them. Refreshing. Motivating!
If you need another nudge, read Tips for Staying Motivated to Write From Successful Writers.
What have I missed? If you have any questions or thoughts on overcoming procrastination to start writing, please comment below…