There is nothing worse than wanting to get something done, and feeling like you should, but not feeling like you are in the mood. I am a huge perfectionist and can be really hard on myself when I fail to get things done. Yet, I’m also a giant procrastinator. Why I’m a perfectionist and a procrastinator, I’ll never know. It’s not the best combination, but there are ways to make it work.
There are a few tricks that help me to stop procrastinating. For you, some may work better than others. And some might not work at all. But I do hope at least one or two of these tricks helps you give yourself the metaphorical (or literal) kick in the pants you need to get writing. These strategies can be applied to anything you are procrastinating, but for the most part, we will focus on how they can help you write.
But feel free to apply them to other areas of your life too! I mean, if you stop procrastinating other tasks you’ll have more time to write! Or eat. Or sleep.
5 Reliable Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing
Stop Procrastinating by Starting Small
When I find myself procrastinating something I know I should do, one of the most helpful tools is to just get started, but to start small. If it’s a sink full of dishes, I tell myself to wash five. If I do that and want to stop, I can. But usually, I start and before I know it, the sink is clear and I’m starting to wipe down the counters.
There is just something about starting with the expectation that you only have to do a little bit. So next time you catch yourself procrastinating your writing, set a small goal and go write. Be it five minutes or a hundred words. Once you’ve done that, if you still don’t feel like writing, stop. It’s still a victory because it’s more than you would have done. But, I’m pretty confident that you will start and realize that 20 minutes have gone by or you’ve written 500 words.
Try it and let me know if it works for you!
Stop Procrastinating by Viewing Writing as a Reward
Usually, we procrastinate because we don’t want to do something. So make yourself want to write by viewing it as a reward. You’ve had a long hard day at your 9-5 or with screaming kids. But once the day job is done or the kids are in bed, you get to create. You get to put words together in amazing ways. You are a wordsmith, a magician of language. You get to escape to far off lands or new worlds that only you completely understand. You get to meet fascinating people and share their stories.
Remember why you write, why you love it, and view it as something to look forward to. You deserve to write. Don’t tell yourself it is a chore or another thing to get done. Remind yourself that it is your passion. It is exactly how you want to spend your time.
Stop Procrastinating by Setting Deadlines
These deadlines can be big or small. You may have a big deadline to finish your novel by a certain month or end of the year (that’s my goal!). But you can also have small deadlines. Really small. Sometimes, and I learned this trick from my mother, I’ll be sitting on the couch not doing anything particularly important. Scrolling through Facebook or checking my notifications on Twitter.
I’ll tell myself I really should go write, but I don’t want to get up. So I set a time. Say it’s 5:00. I usually give myself five minutes. So at 5:05 I get my butt off the couch and go write. Surprisingly, this is pretty successful for me. Sometimes it takes me a few tries, but most of the time when the clock hits that designated hour, I’m up. I might grumble and mutter, but something about having told myself I would do it at a certain time helps me get it done.
Stop Procrastinating and Make the Decision Now
Stop right now, and make a decision. Set a goal to write every day, or Monday through Friday, or five hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Whatever works for you. But having a vague goal to write when you have time or to write a novel someday, won’t get you very far.
So make a decision. If you’ve already decided that you are going to write every day, it will be easier to do so. You won’t have to ask yourself if you feel like writing or if you have time to write. You’ve already made the decision. You’ve already decided to do it, so go do it.
Whether you promote your progress on social media, track your word count on a calendar for yourself, or have a buddy you report to, being accountable is a great way to get things done. My incredible mom is also working on a novel. Every Monday she calls me to let me know how many hours she plans on spending on her WIP for the week. I follow up with her on Fridays to see if she has met her goal.
Usually, she has!
We’ve talked about this accountability system and she’s told me it helps her so much! She doesn’t want to have to report that she didn’t reach her goal, so she makes sure she gets all her hours in.
I try to be accountable to myself by tracking how long I work each day. I also mention my goals and how I’m doing on social media, in the occasional blog post, and in my newsletters for subscribers.
What helps you write when you want to procrastinate? Which of these tips do you think will help you the most?