One of the biggest problems in finishing my book has been “procrastination.”
I know many of you out there have been facing the same issue, but there are ways of beating it.
Over the years I’ve compiled a list of the top ten ways to get our butts in the seat and bust out some writing.
But before we get to that, let’s figure out why you’re procrastinating in the first place.
Some of the biggest causes of procrastination are a lack of confidence in your writing, mismanaged time, lack of motivation, lack of direction of where your story is going, and being easily distracted.
I personally fight staying motivated and—at the moment—not knowing how to get from Point A to Point B.
Figuring out the problem allows us to determine what we need to do to solve it.
Once we have that worked out, we need only to apply the solution.
The list below works best if you what applies specifically to you. So let’s get down to it.
1. Start small.
Pick a low word count—whether it’s fifty words or five hundred words—and make it your goal to write that much every day.
You can always raise or lower it later if you need to.
The point of this is to get words on the paper and create forward movement.
This is a great way to develop confidence in yourself, and it helps in times when you aren’t motivated to sit down and write.
2. Find an accountability partner.
Join a group or connect with another writer to keep you on track.
Community support and constructive feedback are sure ways to keep you moving forward and help develop confidence.
3. Reward yourself for each milestone.
Every time you pass a milestone recognize your progress by doing something you love.
This will reinforce your motivation and keep you focused on moving forward.
4. Include writing in your daily ritual.
You don’t have to worry about when you should sit down to write when you make your writing a nonnegotiable part of your day.
You’ll just sit down and do it.
This is a great way to manage your time, and it will allow you to get writing done even when you don’t feel like it.
5. Find your most productive time of day.
At the end of each writing session, note how much you achieved and how long it took you.
Doing this for a couple of weeks will allow you to pinpoint what time of day you are the most productive.
You might not always be able to sit down at this time due to other commitments in your life but choosing a time of day when you’re the most alert will significantly increase your word count.
Writing when you’re the most focused will create motivation and help you manage your time.
6. Eliminate distractions.
Pick a quiet area. Shut down the Internet. Turn off the phone and don’t answer the door.
Ignore everything and work until you’ve met your day’s quota.
This will ensure you don’t get distracted and will eliminate the need for motivation.
7. Plan what you hope to accomplish for the day.
Set realistic expectations for the day.
Are you going to write a scene, work on a character, edit a chapter, etc.?
This will help build your confidence, help manage your time, and provide direction for your story.
Don’t set your goals too high or that might actually cause procrastination.
8. Freewrite for ten minutes.
Sometimes all we need is to turn off the internal editor.
Sit down and write about anything. It doesn’t matter what it is. Just let your mind ramble.
Don’t edit, no matter how small the mistake is.
I personally do this, and I find this works best if you can’t see your mistakes.
This can be accomplished by turning the color of my text white before starting, and I have found this to be a great way to get the ideas on paper.
This has helped me work through some problems I’ve faced in working through my plot holes and even if you start out unmotivated, you will soon get involved and time will fly by.
Most of the time you’ll find you want to continue even after the time is up.
If you find free-writing difficult, dictating might be the solution to let your ideas flow freely.
9. Leave yourself notes for the next day.
Knowing where your story is headed and exactly what needs to be done next eliminates trying to figure what to write about each day.
You just read over your notes and write.
This is great for motivation and keeping your story moving forward.
This also works if you jot down any ideas you want to work on later so you don’t get off tangent in the middle of writing.
10. Plan the middle of your novel in detail.
This is a big one for me. I didn’t do this, and now I’m stuck just past the half-way mark.
I know the midpoint and climax, but I didn’t work out enough conflict for the part in-between.
Trust me. You want to have this worked out ahead of time. If you don’t, you’ll end up exactly where I am now.
Hopefully, you have found at least one of the above tips helpful and will take the time to apply them to your own work.
Anything we can do to get more words down is great, but only if it works for YOU.
What problems are you facing, and which of these choices have you chosen to implement?
FOR FURTHER READING
Renea strives to help writers develop the focus and skills they need to finish their first novel, offering writers practical writing advice they can apply one step at a time.
She is the author of Conquering Writing Pressures: Living a Balanced Writing Life in a Busy World where she helps writers find the courage to accept life will never be perfect. And if we want our dreams to succeed, we must fight to make them a reality.
She currently lives in St. Joseph, Missouri, with her husband Joe, her three children, and her five lovable furballs.
From a young age, Renea was mad for books and reading, and especially loved Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, which she read in the ninth grade.
She is an avid reader, with her main interests residing in history, mythology, and fantasy, along with some romance and science fiction in her earlier years.
When Renea’s not writing, she enjoys genealogy, role-playing games, and dreams of traveling the world. In a past life, she plucked chickens and milked cows.