Procrastination is the enemy of writers. I'd also hazard a guess that the evil demon procrastination is the primary reason that although more than 80% of people say they want to write a book, only a few actually muster to finish a manuscript. Here are a few ways to defeat the enemy and actually make progress in your writing project.
First understand why you are procrastinating. If you are putting off writing, think about the reason you have decided you "can't" write something now. Are you afraid you don't have enough information? Insecure about your writing prowess? Worried that you are about to be interrupted by family, phone calls, emails, appointments, or other life issues?
All of these reasons for putting off writing have perfectly reasonable solutions. If you don't have enough information, do more research. If you aren't feeling good about your writing abilities, take a writing course. If your life is full of interruptions, find a way to resolve them. I've read about writers that put a sign on the door or actually leave the house entirely and get a hotel room so their family finally gets the hint that they can't be interrupted.
People put off writing projects for different reasons. If you can't actually isolate why you aren't getting anything done, here are a few other possibilities to consider.
- You wait until the last minute to do anything. Some people actually get a "rush" from waiting until those last tense moments before a deadline.
- You worry about writing to the point of "analysis paralysis." In other words, you think so much about a project that you never actually do it.
- You can't decide what to write about. If you never decide on a topic, you never have to write the article or book. (Problem solved!)
Again, you can find solutions to these problems once you recognize exactly what you are doing. If you are always waiting until the absolute last minute to get something done, try reprioritizing your work schedule. For example, I have scheduled days that I write this and another newsletter I do every week. If I know I'm going out of town, I write the articles early, so I can forget about them while I'm on vacation.
If you are victim of analysis paralysis or you can never decide what to write, consider taking the "just do it" approach. In other words, write something. Anything. Give yourself a break. Every article you write doesn't have to be the greatest thing ever written. Something is better than nothing and perfectionism gets you nowhere. For the last 9 years or so, I have written a newsletter article of some type every week. They aren't all going to be nominated for the Newsletter Article Hall of Fame, but they all came out religiously every week. Plus, the reality is that the more you write, the easier it gets.
If the enemy procrastination has been keeping you from meeting your writing dreams, take a hard look at yourself. You are the only person who can get your book done, so take steps to make it happen.
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