Do you want to write? Silly question, of course you do. You long to write. You dream of it. You crave words like chocolate. You’re 100% dedicated to your craft.
However, you’re not actually writing these days. Maybe you’re still researching your subject matter. Or, you want to wait until your kids are older. You might plan to write full-time after retirement, when you have more time and money.
Maybe you’re actually putting pen to paper everyday, or are tapping away at your computer.
At least you were.
You’re taking time off to plot how to make the conflict bigger in your novel. Several agents rejected your last manuscript, and you’re waiting to regroup. Deciding what’s next.
These are all familiar reasons to not write. They’re also…
Excuses meant to keep you from living your dream. Tricks to trap you in wanna-be mode forever. Let’s explore this deeper.
You Put the “Pro” in Procrastinate
Procrastination is the most common form of writer’s block because it’s so darn easy to rationalize. You don’t say, “I’m never going to write my novel.”
You say, “I’m going to write my novel. Tomorrow.”
Or, you only have 30 minutes to write, but you waste all that time on Twitter.
When you rip off the mask of procrastination, you discover the real culprit is that rat-bastard – Doubt.
Doubt’s #1 job is to keep you from writing.
(I love this PW post: 9 Tips How to Totally Crush Writer’s Block.)
Procrastination and Perfection
Perfectionism is often an excuse for procrastination.
Stop waiting for the ideal circumstances in your life to happen first. I don’t know about you, but chaos is the norm around my house. Something’s pretty much always broken, so there’s always an unexpected bill to pay. My husband and I have two teenagers, so I’m usually worried about one, if not both kids.
Enough with these white lies:
You don’t need a $1,500 laptop to write.
You don’t need a degree to write.
You don’t need to be childless to write.
All you need is the desire and determination to do so.
If you’ve tried to write before, but were less-than pleased with the results, then congratulations! You’re an honest-to-goodness writer. Real writing takes place later in the editing phase – the rewriting and reshaping of your words.
Remember, anything worthwhile takes time, patience and practice.
Could you play Beethoven’s Symphony Number Five on the first try? Could you run a marathon without training for a mile in the beginning? If I dropped you in Moscow today, could you speak Russian?
No, no and no.
So, why do you think magic should flow from your fingers from day one? Why do you think your first draft should be a New York Times’ Bestseller? Why do you expect perfection?
Go Big, or Go Home
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an introvert or extrovert. All writers have a dramatic side, or else you wouldn’t want to write beautiful poems, wonderful short stories, or the great American novel.
Non-fiction can be just as powerful – a thought-provoking idea can become an overnight success.
If you keep thinking you can’t write until blank happens, stop.
Stop right now. Quit thinking all-or-none. Stop believing you have to go BIG, or go home. There’s a better way to accomplish more, while abusing yourself less.
2 Simple Steps for Writing Success
Many say they want to write, but few put those words into action. Try these two steps to move you from the couch to the computer:
1 – Name Your Procrastination – First acknowledge your fear. Call it by name, so you know exactly who the enemy is. Be as specific as possible.
- I tell people I’m still researching my book, but the truth is I’m afraid to start writing. What if I have no talent?
- I stay up too late, eat junk food and watch reality TV every night. I oversleep the next day, and never write. I’m sabotaging myself.
- I don’t have time to sit down, and really focus on writing like I want. I don’t care what that stupid post said — now isn’t the best time for me.
2 – Small Steps – Big, sweeping change is too much, too soon. It terrifies you, and throws you back into procrastination mode. Think tiny, baby steps.
- I’ve researched enough. After the kids go to bed, I’m going to start writing one hour, at least three nights per week.
- I’m going to throw away all my junk food. No more eating after 7 p.m. I’m going to bed by 10 p.m., so I can start writing by 6 a.m. I’d like to write for one hour before my family wakes up.
- I don’t have as much time as I’d like, but I want to write just 250 words per day. That’s just one page and doable. Hopefully, I’ll move on, but I can commit to 250.
Writing everyday is best, but do the best you can. It’s also okay if you still procrastinate sometimes. We all do (Facebook is my time waster of choice), but I try to use that as reward to work first, then social media later.
Keep trying until you find what works for you. Everyone has a different creative process, but we all write the same way.
One word at a time.
You’re a real writer!
Do you struggle with procrastination? If so, how do you trick yourself into taking action? Please share a comment.
This post is by Positive Writer regular contributor, Marcy McKay.