Many of us have made procrastination into an art form.
” I’ll write that article tomorrow.”
” I’ll do that outline for that novel idea I’ve had for 3 years next month.”
“I’ll fold those socks later.”
” That stack of moldy dishes can wait a few more hours.”
But us writers take the cake on the procrastination Olympics. I came up with a novel idea about 10 months ago. I’ve got 4 pages done. And I’m acutely aware of my procrastination problem and what it’s based on.
Mine is based on fear. What if it sucks? What if it never gets published? Or read by anyone? How do I make my characters interesting enough for people to keep reading? How do I get from point a (the beginning) to point b (the conclusion)?
And then there’s the self-doubt. I’m no Stephen King or Michael Crichton. I can’t write as well as the best writers I can think of so why try?
It’s a shame, the spiral of procrastination that takes you further away from something that could be wonderful.
So what is a writer to do to overcome procrastination?
1) Start writing.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a haiku, short story, or an article on something else you find interesting. You just have to start. If you’re really stuck, make it simple and write a journal entry about your day/week/month. The point is to start somewhere. Start anywhere. It doesn’t need to be read by anyone but you.
2) Challenge yourself.
Start with a freestyle writing session of 20 minutes. It doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t need symmetry. It doesn’t even need to be all that interesting. Give yourself 20 minutes to write whatever comes to mind. Maybe it’s something that happened to you recently. Maybe it’s the beginning of a short story. Maybe it’s gibberish. It doesn’t really matter. Write it anyway.
3) Eliminate self-doubt
Admittedly, this will be the hardest part for most of us. Worrying if your writing is good enough will only lead you to never even start. Writing is like any other skill you want to perfect. It takes time, patients and practice. Don’t give up. Tell the thoughts in your head to take a hike if they aren’t positive and worthwhile.
Write as much as you can and as often as you can. Take the lead over your desire to procrastinate and just start somewhere. Who knows? It could lead to something beautiful.