Writers are procrastinators.
Okay, that’s a bold statement, and I’m sure that it will hold true for absolutely every writer out there. But in general, out of the writers I know and the many interviews I’ve read with writers talking about their habits, there does seem to be a tendency to procrastinate.
That’s maybe not so surprising. Mental health issues like anxiety and depression may overlap with being a writer, both of which are conditions that lend themselves well to forming a procrastinating habit.And sweet baby Penguin Jesus, I can procrastinate with the best of them.
On any given day, I’m procrastinating on about seven different things. I mean, it’s a full time job in itself. In fact, I’m procrastinating right now because I should be writing something else.
The question is, how do we stop?
It’s important not to confuse procrastinating with something else that is essential for good writing: taking time to think.
We need to think about our characters, our plots, our worlds. But when does that become a problem? How do you know when you’re procrastinating?
Here’s my quick and dirty tip: If you’re doing more thinking than writing, there’s probably a disconnect and you’ve fallen into the procrastinator’s pit.
If that is you, then what do you do? How do you get over that hump?
It’s actually really simple/really hard at the same time.
No matter if its agonising, start writing one word. Just one. Then write two more. Then three. Write a sentence. Let that sentence become a paragraph–and keep going. Write for twenty minutes. Write absolute nonsense, but write.
I say twenty minutes because this is usually the time it takes me to find the thread of what I should be writing about and really begin to connect again. Often, once twenty minutes has gone by, I don’t want to stop. For you, there might be more resistance. If that’s the case, get up and walk away for a bit. Do something else. Then come back. Start your twenty minutes again.
That’s the key. Just start. Eventually, the ghost writer in you takes over and can begin to handle the rest–you just have to give it a chance to hold the pen and get to work!
I’d love to hear your quick tips on how you overcome procrastination and get started on your writing. Let me know in the comments below.