Declare War to Procrastination
Procrastination isn’t a bad thing with moderation. I mean you got to enjoy life too, right? Sometimes, you need to postpone a task for half an hour or half a day to have a social life, a family gathering, or simply to treat yourself. You need and deserve a break once in a while. So, unless your deadline falls within that period, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
Now, when it comes to the detriment of productivity and timely deliverables, that’s when I start grimacing. For me, procrastination is like drinking in a very formal reception. One or two glasses may be okay, depending on how well you can take alcohol. But the more you drink after that, the less you’ll be productive, coherent, and motivated. Nothing good can come out of it. Ultimately, you’ll wake up with a massive headache, and a delay that will bear consequences.
If you’re going down that rabbit hole, stop the pattern and get to work. Now, I know what you’re thinking.
I want to write, but… (You may fill the blank as you please)
First, NO excuses!
I’m part of a Facebook Group where one fellow blogger asked what our excuses were not to write, and most answers were interesting:
– I’m too tired
– I have a kid to take care of
– I’m too busy with work
– I have no inspiration (Writer’s block)
– I have too many ideas, and can’t seem to focus
– I’ll do it tomorrow
Don’t wait for tomorrow because, for all I know, it may never happen…
If I were to guess, I would say most of you (myself included) is guilty of using at least one of these excuses, even if most of the time they don’t feel like excuses. I mean you have a life and can’t ignore it. Sometimes, you get sick, and life happens, but all I’m saying is: don’t take advantage of it.
At the end of the day, you need to finish writing your book or post. You absolutely need to be consistent with your writing to be successful , and this will require a lot from you.
Second, NO Distractions!
So here are a few suggestions:
– Use a distraction-free software
Nowadays, you have a variety of writing software you can use that offers distraction-free writing such as Write!, Hemingway Editor, iA Writer, or Ulysses to only name a few. As far as I’m concerned, I prefer using Scrivener. This software has made my life so much easier. I can also personalize the background to have a smoother environment that will help me connect faster with the story.
– Turn off that damn wifi!
Do the research you need before so that you won’t need the internet. Yes, you can live without the web for 30 minutes to a few hours. I promise the world won’t collapse (hmm – maybe I shouldn’t promise that… Let’s live dangerously, then!)
Block a time where no traveling or surfing will be allowed except in your imagination. Social Media can wait. You can even schedule your post in advance if needed. Buffer or Hootsuite have great free options.
– Protect your time
Plan accordingly so that you won’t be needed for a few hours. Put your phone on Do not Disturb, and you can even invent a secret code for emergencies with your family.
Free some time by bribing someone to watch the kids, the cat/dog… or husband.
– Do what you need before
Ok – you’re not a two year old, but sometimes, it’s good to remember to take care of these things. We’re human – So think restroom, food, or hydration… I mean, you can even go pick up the mail, or do the dishes if that’s important to you. No judgment here, but be quick! You need to free your mind.
– Set up your environment:
Get coffee, but don’t bring the pot or you might need to do some squats afterward. Put some music on if that helps. I don’t like music when I write as I find it distracting, but I have friends who can’t write without music or a picture on the wall. We’re all different, so find what works for you. Also, set up your desk by getting rid of possible toys (FYI – a slinky may count).
– Don’t forget to get some rest and take some breaks
You’ll be more efficient. It’ll be hard to concentrate if you don’t sleep 8 hours at night (or day for night owls). If you’re tired, you may be able to get more out of a writing session if you can take half an hour nap before.
Third, Write, Write, and Write
– Don’t wait for inspiration.
If you start typing, eventually, it’ll show up. Sometimes, you have to use a bit of tough love on yourself. So, get in front of your computer or notepad, and write until what you write makes sense. You have to let the magic operate.
– Write in increments for 20 to 30 minutes at a time.
I would recommend using the Pomodoro technique, which is a time-management technique developed by Francesco Cirillo. I didn’t use a timer at first, but I noticed my focus goes down around that time. I take a break (5 to 10 minutes) and start again. After four Pomodoro timers, you take a longer break. Many writers and bloggers use this technique, and it’s very efficient. In a nutshell, you get more done without going crazy.
Here is a short video that explains how it works.
– Outline and fill the blanks
Another thing that helps is to outline. I’ve been resistant to it at first, but since I outline, I write so much faster. I know where I’m going either way, but outlining just makes it easier. K.M. Weiland, Jane Friedman, and The Creative Penn are great resources if you want to know more about outlining.
Finally, Use an Alternative if you can’t write.
If you really can’t focus, then do yourself a favor and do something useful.
– Research the topic.
If you have material to work on, then writing will go fast.
– Read a book in your genre.
You might just find the sparks or ideas you’re seeking. I can’t stress enough how important it is to read.
– Take a short nap and start again.
If you’re exhausted, staring at your screen won’t do you any good.
– Change your setting
Try something different. Write in a park, in a cafe, or on the beach – Do whatever works to help you write.
– Go for a walk to change your mind.
Stop if you’re getting frustrated. Go for a walk, and clear your thoughts!
Distractions are a constant reminder of how easy it is not to write. Write regularly and don’t allow procrastination to settle. You need to know when to write and when to take a moment for you. It’s all about balance.