Procrastinate Like A True Writer
Search procrastination online. Chances are you’ll find how-to-get-over-it articles that boil down to this list:
Step 1: Make a to-do list
Step 2: Conquer X on your list, no matter what X is
Step 3: Repeat Step 2
Easy, right? Not so much.
Writers don’t work this way. We like to do a bit of Y, part of Z and avoid X like a dog avoids eye contact when guilty of eating the cat’s food.
You know what I’m talking about.
But sometimes procrastinating is the right thing to do. Sometimes you don’t have all the creativity and energy to jump into writing project X (to be known hereafter as X). Sometimes it’s too soon to write X if the idea isn’t fully flushed out.
My boss would disagree.
Procrastinating can’t always be the answer. You can force yourself to write X if you have strict deadlines, but there’s a reason why you’re revising it over and over again. There still can be wiggle room for procrastination, even with time limits.
So if you’re taking the procrastination route, be the best procrastinator that you can be.
Doesn’t make sense? I’ll explain.
Procrastinate Without Guilt
Don’t beat yourself up. Procrastinating doesn’t make you a bad person.
If you’re leaving X for a later time and place, don’t obsess about not doing it. In fact, don’t even think about it.
Let it go and do something else. Pick another writing project to tackle if you’re feeling productive.
Throw yourself 100% into not doing X. That means throwing yourself 100% into what you’re doing instead of X.
It can be another writing project, errands around town or even watching TV. But it can’t be even 1% of X.
Fully experience what you’re doing. How does this relate to X? Your best ideas for X can pop up while doing something else. That’s because your brain is relaxed and can make connections in your brain more easily.
Choose To Procrastinate
Don’t let procrastination happen to you. You shouldn’t be writing X then suddenly find yourself, well, not.
You have control, so choose to procrastinate. Don’t fight it. Say, “I will now procrastinate” and do it.
Make procrastination a conscious choice so that you always have a grip on your writing project.
Know Why You’re Procrastinating
There are many reasons to procrastinate. Yet none of them should be because you feel lazy.
Here are some examples:
- You want to step away from X in order to develop crucial ideas
- You want to recharge your batteries so that you have renewed energy for X
- You want to focus your attention on another writing project
You may find that X was an inefficient use of your time or not necessary to complete anymore. Whatever the reason, define your situation before procrastinating.
Take Responsibility For Procrastinating
If there are deadlines and commitments surrounding X, update your team on a new deadline or request one. Assure them that it will be completed and completed well. Own up to your procrastination and its consequences.
So I challenge you to procrastinate. And it can be done in only two steps:
Step 1: Pick X
Step 2: Don’t do X
Not only will you write X, but it will be better timed and better than you imagined.
What’s your procrastination process? Share your procrastination ways below…whenever you get around to it…
I never got on board with that “Write every day, even if it’s the last thing you want to do” mantra. Why? So I can come up with uninspired garbage that I have to delete or rewrite anyway?
I agree! Sometimes the best writing comes from lots of mulling it over in your head first, and that can take days to think about.
Definitely. I’d go as far as to say that is actually when the writing happens. Typing it out is often a formality.
[…] And there’s also no shortage of advice about what’s behind this Writerly Procrastination: lack of discipline, not enough freedom to fail, wrong kind of workspace, not enough prep […]
Barbara Sher wrote similar advice in ‘Live the Life You Love’. She felt that it was better to take charge of life and say “I’m not going to to do X right now, I’m going to do Y.” Once I took an active roll in my procrastination by deciding to do something else, I stopped being at the whim of it and weirdly started getting more done. Great post.
[…] procrastinate. Keep saying this positive mantra to encourage yourself to take action […]