Want an easy way to end procrastination? Writers are prone to getting behind on their writing due to distractions such as social media, their BuzzFeed addiction, or any other number of chores and challenges. Fact is, we’re a creative bunch, and the creative mind is notably distractible. We need the rush of the new, the interesting, and the sparkly to keep our creative juices at a simmer.
This tendency, while it does provide stimulation for our novelty-craving minds, can grind a promising writing career to a halt. If I’ve described you so far, then you need to find a way to end procrastination so your writing doesn’t suffer.
Much has been written on the pseudo-science of productivity, and with it, reams of material on how to keep yourself focused. I’ve found one simple trick to be key for keeping my eyes on the prize when I’m writing.
So, you’re cooking along with your novel or article when you get the itch to check your email. Then, you might as well check Twitter, too. Or your Goodreads account. Perhaps your Facebook profile needs updating. Is that a faucet dripping in the bathroom? The dog hasn’t been fed yet. Oh, look — a chicken!
Your natural inclination is to be distracted. It’s who you are. How can you solve that problem?
Simple! Give in to the distraction.
Yes, you heard me. Let it happen. The key is to let it happen in a way that will move you forward. Here’s how:
To end procrastination, you’re going to allow yourself to become distracted whenever you want. The only caviat is that you must choose your distractions from a pre-selected list. To create that list, think of one or two high-priority to-do items that will move your writing career forward. Examples are: research for setting or characters, article or story pitch research, writing exercises or classes, or reading articles or books on writing techniques. This is by no means a complete list, and the list will vary based on the type of writing you’re doing.
Once you have your list, the next time you feel the urge to put your novel aside in favor of a spin around Facebook, think again. You can stop writing, but only to pursue the things on your list.
While technically this doesn’t end procrastination, but substitutes a productive task for a non-productive one, it does solve two problems. First, this method allows your brilliant, creative mind to leapfrog tasks at will, giving it the stimulation it craves. Second, choosing only from your pre-determined choices ensures that stimulation will come from things that will move you toward, rather than away from, your writing goals.
My current list allows me to work on a handout for a writing course I’m preparing or edit my novel. It provides just enough change from my daily writing that I feel focused, even though I’m actually giving in to distraction. It works!
Try it, and let me know how it works for you.
See you on the next page!