I’ve been working with a couple of writing students who have a big problem. They need procrastination help, because they’ve never developed a writing habit. However, they’re well on the way to solving their challenge, simply because they’re AWARE of what they’re doing.
Most procrastinators aren’t aware, because they always have 1001 great reasons not to write. When you realize that all these “reasons” are procrastination, you’re well on the way to solving the problem.
Your reasons may include: illness, lack of time to write, lack of education, your age…
Procrastination results from anxiety.
In this article, How to Make Money As a Freelance Writer Even if You Hate Writing, I talk about anxiety:
Writing Anxiety: What It Is, and How to Overcome It
Writers often dislike writing because it makes them anxious.
“Writing anxiety” is completely normal. It’s a well known and researched condition. When you write, you’re using both your left brain, and your right brain.
Creative, right-brained people tend to be more anxious. The “creative temperament” is a cliche for a reason.
Action conquers anxiety, and procrastination
In the above “hate writing” article, I talk about setting word count goals. This works because you’re taking action. When I first started writing, I’d sit in front of my IBM Selectric with tears pouring down my face. I wrote anyway. Over time, my anxiety faded. I still get anxious now and then, however, all these years later, writing is an entrenched habit, and I have many tools to overcome procrastination.
Are you procrastinating?
You can’t stop procrastinating until you acknowledge that that’s what you’re doing. It’s not easy. You WILL believe your 1001 reasons until you see through them.
You won’t be able to conquer procrastination immediately, and it’s foolish to try. If you try to force yourself to write, you’ll trigger resistance.
Sneak up on it. Tell yourself that you don’t need to write. Agree with the words in your head that you have no time, no energy, and no one will buy your writing, even if you manage to get it done.
Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you feel. Anxiety comes in waves. If you focus on it, you’ll find it increases. Focus on where in your body you feel anxious. When you do, you’ll become more anxious, and then the tension will fade away.
Start writing as soon as this happens.
If you acknowledge your procrastination, and allow yourself to feel anxious, you’ll find that you’re able to write.
You’ll need to repeat the process many times. Accept this. You’re training yourself to write.
Writing and money
The two writing students with whom I’m working procrastinate even though they have clients and deadlines.
Knowing that you have deadlines makes you more anxious. Just use the above process. Sit down in front of your computer, and allow yourself to feel anxious. Start writing as soon as you can.
The key is sitting down in front of your computer, no matter how anxious you feel.
You CAN overcome procrastination and write more. You need a process however. Try the above tips, and be patient with yourself.