Procrastination: Kill it
© Cheryl Malandrinos- All Rights
If they gave awards for
procrastination, I certainly would have a mantle full of
The largest challenge I
have had to overcome since becoming a full-time writer is
focusing my energies on accomplishing my writing goals.
It’s just too easy to waste time when I don’t have a
deadline staring me in the face—and sometimes even when I
your growth as a writer, and kills your creativity. Let’s
look at some of the reasons why writers procrastinate and
how you can defeat it and be more productive:
If you’re anything like
me, you’re juggling multiple writing projects at the same
time, trying to prioritize what to work on first, and still
have time to catch up on industry news.
I’m overwhelmed just
thinking about it.
And therein lies the
problem— writers have minds that never
If we aren’t thinking
about our three or four ongoing projects, we’re hatching
ideas for new stories and articles, or we’re despairing
over the fact that three months unread trade journals sit
in a pile of paperwork on our desks.
Sit down and take a deep
breath. Now write a to-do list.
Seeing your goals on
paper will make it easier to prioritize what needs to come
Finishing the article due
next week will come before you write another chapter in
your romance novel, which isn’t under contract
And those trade journals;
you’re never going to read them if you put them in a pile
for later. And when the deadline for the contest you
really wanted to enter has passed, you’ll be kicking
So… skim through trade
journals as soon as they come in. Cut out articles of
interest and tuck them into a manila folder to take with
you everywhere you go.
Okay, so now you know how
to keep from feeling overwhelmed, but what about those
writing goals—are they specific enough?
Having too many goals can
actually keep you from accomplishing any of them. It’s too
much information to digest; and rather than think about it,
our minds say ‘there is no way I can do all
So, we start to put
things off. We miss one goal, which leads to missing the
next one, and the next. In the end, we spend more time
revising our goals than actually obtaining
But you have the power to
solve this problem. Remember that to-do list you wrote?
Break it down to monthly goals, and then to weekly
This way your to-do list
becomes more manageable.
You aren’t concentrating
on every single goal you want to accomplish all at once.
And by breaking your tasks into smaller chunks, you can
tackle each goal a little bit at a time and experience that
feeling of accomplishment which comes from crossing an item
off your list.
You have now set specific
goals, but there is still one last opportunity for
procrastination to strangle the life out of your
creativity—when you sit down to write.
Even when I am totally
engrossed in a project, I can find myself surfing the
Internet and answering emails instead of focusing on what
needs to get done. When I hit a rough spot, like when words
don’t flow well, I wander away to do something
Writers are anxious
people. They spend some of their time thinking they’re
great, and the rest of the time believing they stink.
Anxiety forces writers to revise their work over and over
again to make it the best it can be.
That’s a good
But when writers get too
anxious they can’t create anything. They ignore their
writing goals. They substitute busy work for writing time.
They cease to be productive.
In her book titled
Page after Page, author Heather Sellers says, "The
best way to manage anxiety is to shine a little light on
it. Resisting it makes it worse. What is light in this
case? Putting words down on paper. It’s the work that makes
Knowing this will
actually help you defeat procrastination for good sounds
wonderful, but it isn’t always easy to put into
So, what do you do? Work
Start with writing for
only five minutes. During those five minutes you must focus
one hundred percent of your energy on writing. Once that
time is up, you can do anything else you want, but have a
plan for when you will go back to writing for another five
minutes. Slowly increase the segments until you are
spending half an hour of uninterrupted time on your
anxiety’s partner in crime. It keeps you from accomplishing
goals because none of your writing is ever good enough.
After a while, you avoid writing because there’s no point
if you can’t achieve perfection.
Here are ways you can
free yourself from the confines of
Allow yourself to
accept a crappy first draft. That’s why they call it a
first draft—it’s the unrevised flow of ideas that are
rambling around in your head.
done is better than perfect. There is a
point where you have to say, "It’s good
Ask for feedback. An
objective set of eyes can see mistakes clearer than you
can, and by putting your article or story in the hands
of someone else you are free to tackle your next
You have the power
and the ability to conquer procrastination. In a few simple
steps you’ll be on your way to becoming a more productive
the Author: Cheryl
C. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in
time management and organization for writers. She has
also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s,
gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues.
Cheryl is also a virtual book tour coordinator for
Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find out more
about Cheryl by visiting her website