Seven proven ways to stop procrastinating, start being productive, and meet your writing goals.
Procrastination is among the worst enemies of any writer. You know you want to write and you know you should be writing, but you can’t seem to put your fingers to the keyboard or get out your pen to paper and let the words flow. Here are some ideas you can try to get back on track and beat that ticking clock.
Determine the Reasons Why You’re Procrastinating
Logical thinking may be a good way to find the root cause of your procrastination and discover how to defeat it. Are you afraid your writing won’t turn out as good as you imagined it in your mind? Are you afraid of failure or success? Is there a specific reason you don’t want to write a particular scene or passage? Analyzing the reasons for your procrastination and even writing them down might help you figure out some ways to beat it in the future.
Escape the Internet
Unplug your Internet cable. If you use wireless connectivity, go to a place where there is no wireless access. The Internet is a gold mine of random knowledge and even some worthwhile distractions, but it can be very tempting to get lost there, especially when you’re under the pressure of a deadline.
Change the Scenery
If you always write in the same place and at the same time every day, a change of scenery might work well for your procrastination problem and spark some new ideas. Take your laptop or pen and paper outside or even to a local coffee shop—if you can concentrate without getting stuck people-watching for hours.
Remind Yourself of Your Project’s Importance
There’s a reason why you want (or need) to write in the first place. It might be a deadline, an urgent need, or a passion for certain characters or plot, but no matter what it is, remember this reason for writing and keep it at the forefront of your mind. Write it down on an index card and put it in your writing space. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate or deviate from your dream if you have a constant reminder of what kindled that dream, to begin with.
Enlist Others to Remind You to Get Back to Work
A “do not disturb” sign on your door might be helpful when the ideas are flowing and you’re meeting your daily goals. When you’re feeling like you might be tempted to slack off, get someone to check up on you at regular intervals and make sure you’re doing what writing goals you had planned that day—whether it’s 500 words or 5,000 words.
Use Online Tools
There are a number of online tools that block out possible distractions and let you write with better concentration. Dr. Wicked’s Write or Die is a great tool, along with programs that allow you to write with just a clean space, without all the distracting tools that other programs have.
Self-Confidence in One’s Writing
Sometimes a student feels she must plagiarize because she lacks her abilities in her own writing. What she needs, then, is to develop confidence in her written voice using a plagiarism checker or not. The following techniques may help:
- Enlist the aid of a tutor. Tutors on college campuses, for example, are paid to assist students who need help with their classes. That help can entail anything from giving suggestions on how to improve a paper to helping edit one’s essay.
- Ask a friend for help. Students who don’t have access to a tutor may be able to find a friend to go over their paper. For example, a student who is good at maths can help a fellow student who agrees to proofread his paper.
- Practice writing. Sometimes students lack confidence in their writing simply because they don’t write very much. Techniques such as freewriting and journaling can help the hesitant student.
- Talk with the teacher. Many instructors are willing to spend time with students, especially if it helps the student feel like she has a better idea of what the instructor expects. Some instructors will even agree to read sections of the student’s paper before it is due to give feedback.
Break Your Work into Smaller Chunks
For example, if you have to write 500 words by the end of the day, do just 100 words at a time. Reward yourself after each session with five minutes of Internet surfing or 10 minutes of a game like Angry Birds. Breaking the work up makes it more manageable and you have less of an excuse to procrastinate if you only have to write a small amount during each writing session.
Procrastination is a part of every writer’s life, but it shouldn’t have to rule your life. Using a variety of the above techniques may help you restore your lost productivity and keep it up until your work is finished.