Procrastination: Kill it Now!

© Cheryl Malandrinos- All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

If they gave awards for procrastination, I certainly would have a mantle full of trophies. 

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 do. 

Procrastination stunts 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:

 

Feeling Overwhelmed 

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 stop. 

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 first. 

Finishing the article due next week will come before you write another chapter in your romance novel, which isn’t under contract yet. 

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 yourself. 

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?

 

Focusing Your Goals

 

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 that’. 

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 them. 

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 goals. 

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.

 

Time Wasters 

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 easier. 

Sound familiar? 

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 thing. 

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 demons vanish." 

Knowing this will actually help you defeat procrastination for good sounds wonderful, but it isn’t always easy to put into practice. 

So, what do you do? Work in segments. 

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 work. 

Perfectionism is 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 perfectionism: 

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.

Accept that done is better than perfect. There is a point where you have to say, "It’s good enough".

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 project. 

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 writer. 

 

About 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 at http://ccmalandrinos.tripod.com/ 

 

 

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