Do you put off doing things that you want to do? Do you find reasons why you don’t have the time, can’t find the money, won’t expend the effort? If the answer is yes, you have a clear case of procrastination.
It’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t have a plan of action. And there are many activities that can easily be disguised as reasons for not writing, but are really procrastination tactics. If you’re juggling kids, work, after-school activities, and your spouse’s needs, how can you possibly write a book? Impossible, right? Many authors have these very same commitments, yet every year thousands of new books are published.
What do these authors know that you don’t?
Procrastination is self-sabotage
Millions of would-be authors dream of achieving big goals such as landing on The New York Times bestsellers list, being the center of attention at book signings with the line out the door and around the block, or having their book turned into a movie. These are worthy dreams. So what’s stopping you from achieving them?
Not following your dreams is an act of self-sabotage. You may have a fear of failure. You may even have a fear of success. Or you’re afraid to rock the boat. Any of these fears could lead you to procrastinate.
Rather than procrastinate, you could create an outline for your book. You could sit in front of your computer and write 500 words. You could take a walk and plan your story at the same time. Instead, you read your email, shop online, chat with your friends on Facebook, or buy yet another book on how to write a bestseller. There’s nothing wrong with those activities. But if you don’t start writing today, when will you begin?
What to do about it
Breaking a bad habit such as procrastination requires commitment. Change doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen if you’re determined.
- Be aware of your thoughts. Start paying attention to how many times you experience negative thoughts around writing. Write down those negative thoughts in a journal, on your computer, or in a note pad by your bed.
- Develop a method that allows you to change your emotions. Choose one that resonates with you. Meditation, EFT (tapping), the Sedona Method, and The Work by Byron Katie are examples of ways to reprogram your thinking.
- Be patient. Unraveling those strangleholds may take time. Beating yourself up or getting mad at your weakness only reinforces the issue. So be kind to yourself.
- Persist. Every day that you work to release your fears about writing will result in a brighter, more optimistic you.
- Commit to yourself, and to the universe, that you’re serious and you will follow through. Then take action—WRITE!—and be open to opportunity. When you do the work, the universe takes notice and begins to reward you.
Pitfalls to avoid
- Don't try to do too much.
- Don’t over schedule. Start with writing for 30 minutes or an hour. Give yourself a task you can accomplish. Then celebrate your success. You want to feel good when you finish.
- Don’t wait until you’re tired. Creativity requires a calm but active brain. Choose a time to write when you’re alert and excited. Then start writing. Let those thoughts pour out. No censoring allowed.
- Don’t give up. As one of my favorite coaches says, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you write 300 words a day, at the end of the year you’ll have 109,500 words, which is more than enough for a book. You can do that!
What are some procrastination activities that have held you back and how did you overcome them?
Nanette Littlestone is a freelance editor, writing coach, and author who has worked with both fiction and nonfiction for 20 years. She specializes in helping authors to use their passion to achieve their own unique voice and message. For more information, please visit www.wordsofpassion.com