You’re just about to begin writing, when you feel the urge for a quick email check. A few hours later, you’ve answered all your emails, read all the news on Twitter, watched three movie trailers, reorganised your desk and snacked (twice). Then, reality hits. Discomfort starts to sink in. Eventually, you decide to do the job when you’re feeling better…back to square one with a blank page.
Writers often find themselves trapped in the dreadful loop of procrastination. It starts off with the seemingly harmless idea of putting your work off for a while, but you end up with all your motivation and productivity drained away.
The good news is that you’re not alone; everyone procrastinates. Some do it more, some do it less, and some find a way to beat it. And well, there’s no bad news. Everything can be overcome with the power of your will!
Here are five ways you can beat procrastination.
- Do away with distractions
Procrastinators across the world have one thing in common – the tendency to give in to distractions. Why waste energy fighting your urges when you can eliminate their causes? Ideally, you’d completely disconnect from the world while you write. This means switching your phone off, disconnecting from the Internet and working alone. If you can’t switch your phone off, silence it. If you must stay connected to the Internet, sign out of your social media accounts or install browser extensions that block certain websites while you write. If you can’t be alone, find a quieter spot. And give your workspace a makeover; it can go a long way. Let it reflect the state of mind you seek – absolutely clutter-free.
- Plan it out
It’s easy to feel intimidated when you look at finishing your book as one major mission. The smaller your goals, the less daunting they seem and the easier it is to get them done. Break your job down into a series of steps: researching, ideating, writing your first draft, editing and so on. To make it easier, set mini-goals, measured by words or pages. For example, you could aim to finish three pages of your first draft each day. Allow more time than you think you need – when you finish a task earlier, you’ll feel more confident to take on the next one; and when you don’t, you won’t panic about falling off track. Make a to-do list and keep checking off items as you go, the sense of achievement will propel you forward.
- Reward yourself
No matter how much you love writing, it sometimes feels like nothing more than a drill. And achieving your mini-goals isn’t always enough to keep you going. Lift your spirit up with rewards; they do wonders for your productivity. When you finish a chapter, take yourself out to dinner. Or when you’re halfway through your first draft, take a day off to unwind with friends. Why, what, when, where and how – it’s all up to you.
- Just write
If blank pages seem to overpower you, fill them up! Shut off your inner editor and start scribbling. You don’t have to begin with the introduction; write about a character, an incident…anything! It’s great to strive for flawless writing, but being hard on yourself only leads to more anxiety and less motivation. And that lays the very grounds for procrastination! Embrace bad writing. It’s okay, really. First drafts are never impeccable. In fact, they’re even supposed to be messy – it’s all about unhindered expression. All that matters is that the words flow. There’s plenty of time for polishing.
- Spend your day better
How you spend the rest of your day affects how you write. Bring more discipline and relaxation into your life, and you’ll work far more smoothly. Do things that make you feel good, and you’ll naturally feel more creative, stress less and procrastinate lesser too.
Breaking out of the cycle of procrastination takes effort, but the fruits are incredibly luscious. Gather every bit of determination and you’ll set yourself up for sweet success!