Writing Tip #2: Avoiding Procrastination

So, you’ve finally sat down to write your story.  Your hands are poised over the keys.  The cursor blinks invitingly at the top of the blank Word page.  You have notes about your story scrawled on legal pads in mostly illegible writing.  The time has come to write.

But did you finish that last episode of Hoarders on Hulu?  You think you did, but you’re not sure if Dr. Zasio and Matt Paxton were able to help that woman with the 50 cats.  So, you look, and you did.  But the screenshot for the next one looks intriguing so you start the episode.  Just to see if it’s as bad as you think it was.  And it’s worse!  Now you have to watch.

Three episodes later and it’s time for bed.  You decide you’ll write tomorrow, but after watching multiple episodes of Hoarders you’re now motivated to clean your house the next evening.

Welcome to procrastination.

Everyone procrastinates. We all put off stuff we either want to do or don’t want to do for some reason or another.  When it comes to writing, procrastination makes perfect sense: writing is work.  Hard work. And if you’ve spent all week at a desk in front of a computer, the thought of doing that at night or on the weekend becomes something you want to avoid at all costs.

To me, procrastination is okay.  To a point. But while you are binge-watching TV shows or going down the YouTube video rabbit hole, ask yourself why you’re avoiding writing.  It’s more than just the whole desk/computer/work thing.  Is there a problem with the story?  Do you not like the story?  Would you rather write something else?

With any form procrastination, there is a root cause for its existence.  But when participating in the act of procrastination, I say you need to embrace it.  Don’t kick yourself or beat yourself up.  What’s the point?  If you really wanted to write right now, you would be. 

At some point, however, you need to realize that your story needs to be written, and that all the TV shows, cleaning, and reading of junk mail won’t solve your procrastination problem. Is there a better time for you to write other than the evenings or weekend?  Could you stay a little after work and write at your desk?  Could you go to a local bookstore, library, or coffee shop with fewer distractions, turn off your phone, and write there? 

Also remember that all the shows, movies, and other things that you use as tools of procrastination will still be there when you’re done writing.  And you’ll feel better when you do finally sit down to watch because you’ve accomplished your writing tasks for the day.

Sometimes the Procrastination Resolution (sounds like the title of an episode of The Big Bang Theory) comes by changing environments and limiting the distractions.  By subtracting your distractions, you then give yourself and your brain the freedom to get down to business and write.