Today, I’m finally going to write.
Okay, well, I didn’t get around to it, but I’ll definitely write tomorrow.
Huh…maybe I’ll start on Monday?
Sounds familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, procrastination is common among writers. It’s quite funny when you think about it – we love writing with all our heart, yet we often struggle to actually sit down and write.
Today, we’ll unpack why procrastination is such a writing hurdle and how you can jump through its hoops in order to build a proper writing routine.
Ready to overcome procrastination? Let’s go!
Why You Procrastinate
Contrary to popular belief, procrastination isn’t laziness. It’s a freeze response. Writing a book is an incredibly daunting task, one that seems so overwhelming you almost don’t want to start.
Because what if you find out you can’t do it? What if you get stuck on one chapter and can’t continue further? What if…
It’s better to just leave it be. Let the story swirl in the confines of your mind, in a place where it’s absolutely perfect and safe from harm.
Or…imagine you actually start writing a book. Yes, the process is terrifying and difficult, but there are so many moments of euphoria and beauty and excitement that they make up for every single obstacle.
And at the end of the journey, you make your dream a reality. You become a published author.
One way or another, things will be hard. Writing is hard. Not writing is hard. Which hard will make you happier?
With that in mind, let’s run through my best tips on how to overcome procrastination and boost your writing!
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Tip 1: Perfectionism Goes in the Bin
Sometimes, pulling the strands of your story out of your imagination and putting them onto paper may feel like destruction rather than creation.
That’s because the story you’ve dreamed up is in a sheltered state of perfection as long as you don’t need any words to transform it into being.
Once language joins in, the battle begins. But if there’s one thing you ought to remember, it’s that no written story is ever 100% perfect. You can either have a perfect story no one reads – because you never write it – or an imperfect one that is real, loved, and cherished by hundreds.
What’s more, first drafts are rarely top-quality. One of my writing tips is to use the first draft as an opportunity to tell yourself a story you love, pour it onto paper, and trust its power.
After all, you can’t edit a blank page.
If you procrastinate because you’re scared of writing a bad draft, remember that no draft is much worse than a bad one.
So, give it a try. Tell yourself a story. And see it come to life.
Tip 2: Reorganize Your Priorities
Procrastination is much easier when you have plenty of other responsibilities to keep you occupied. It gives you enough excuses to push writing off.
Instead of putting your writing as a non-compulsory maybe at the bottom of your to-do list, push it to the top. For example, you can wake up half an hour earlier and spend the first 30 minutes of the day writing.
When writing becomes the very first thing you do each day, you begin to view it as a priority and a habit. Not to mention it gives you an amazing dopamine boost!
This way, procrastination won’t even get a chance to set in because by the time your workday starts, writing is already ticked off.
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Tip 3: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
A novel seems a daunting task because it’s an overwhelmingly large project, with thousands of words, multiple subplots, character arcs, and twists.
Just thinking of it can freeze you in place, letting procrastination swallow you whole.
That’s why breaking the process down into sizeable chunks is essential. While some writers measure their progress by word count – for instance, Stephen King aims to write two thousand words a day – others prefer to set up a timer and write however many words they can within that specific time frame.
It’s best to set smaller, achievable goals because reaching them will bring a sense of accomplishment each day. Plus, you’re always free to go past your goal, which only makes you feel better!
For example, you can set yourself the goal of:
- Writing 500 words a day (this is more than enough! If your novel has seventy thousand words, you’ll write the first draft in just under a year)
- Writing for 30-60 minutes every day
- Writing 3500 words per week (this allows you more flexibility since you don’t have to write every day)
In order to overcome procrastination, it is imperative your goals are manageable. If the task feels too overwhelming, you might freeze and avoid it altogether.
Procrastination is your body’s response to fear.
As far as writing strategies are concerned, the best way to face these feelings is by setting achievable goals, transforming writing into a morning routine, and saying goodbye to perfectionism.
If you’re still feeling stuck, try freewriting – an exercise where you write whatever you want, with no constraints whatsoever – or spend some time creating character sheets, building a world map, and brainstorming plot ideas. Sometimes, even zero words count because thinking about your book is just as vital as writing it.
My final advice is to stop waiting for the inspiration to strike. Writing is a craft, one you might have to force yourself to work on from time to time, and that’s completely okay.
Don’t give up.