You want to write. You’ve started your novel, or you haven’t. You’ll write “tomorrow”. No matter how many excuses you make however, and no matter how reasonable those excuses are, deep in your heart you know that you’re in the grip of procrastination. Your big fear is that you can’t get free.
Relax. There’s nothing wrong with you, and your writing career isn’t dead. Every writer suffers from procrastination. You need ways to become comfortable with this tendency in yourself, because what we resist, persists.
You need tools to conquer procrastination.
How to conquer procrastination forever
I’m the Queen of Procrastination. I put off writing for years, never mind weeks. Finally I accepted my tendency to put things off — I could even laugh at myself. From that moment on, my procrastination vanished. These days, it’s only very rarely that I procrastinate, and when I do, I know that there’s something in my Work in Progress (WIP) that isn’t working: I need to rethink. Procrastination has become my good friend.
That’s the key to conquering your procrastination: admit that that’s what you do, and learn to laugh at yourself. If you can accept that you will procrastinate, and that as a writer, it’s your default setting, you can conquer it.
Let’s look at three ways to help you to do that.
1. See through your excuses: admit that you procrastinate, and accept it
Can you admit that you procrastinate? Can you accept that your excuses are just that, excuses?
Your excuses can include:
- I’m too busy to think about my novel right now;
- I’m feeling unwell, I can’t write with a headache;
- I need to wash my car/ do the laundry/ clean the floors/ wash the dog etc…
- I need better ideas, everything I write is trite, it’s been done before;
- I need to work on my plot;
- My characters are dead, I need a way to make them come alive…
- I need to do more research;
- I need… (fill in the blank.)
Each and every excuse, no matter how true it is, is just an excuse.
Admit that you procrastinate — and quash your guilt. Procrastination stems from fear, and we all procrastinate. When you accept that, you’ll be able to see through all your excuses, and will write anyway — no matter how many excuses you have for not writing.
2. Write 50 words a day of your WIP, on your phone, or tablet
You’re procrastinating. Allow yourself to do that.
Just do one simple thing. Grab your cell phone, and write 50 words a day of your WIP, every day.
Why a cell phone? Because your phone ensures that you can write your 50 words a day anywhere. Chances are that your procrastination has woken up your inner censor. He’s fierce, and will overwhelm you if you try to write formally.
Writing on your phone is non-threatening. You’re just playing, and your inner censor won’t object to that.
3. Be outrageous: blow up your novel and get your inspiration back
When we’re procrastinating, we’re taking our WIP too seriously. Such seriousness is the enemy of creativity and inspiration.
Blow up your novel. Do things differently.
- Eliminate a character, and revise your WIP to make adjustments for this;
- Add a dead body — as Raymond Chandler suggested: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”
- Change your point of view character;
- Turn your novel into a different genre. Make your mystery a romance. Make your thriller a fantasy novel — bring on a vampire. 🙂
It doesn’t matter what you do. Your aim is to get excited, and get inspired.
Blowing things up can be scary. But why not try it? What you’ve written isn’t inspiring you, otherwise you wouldn’t be procrastinating.
Blowing things up has worked for me, and for other authors too. Couldn’t hurt, right?
Duplicate your WIP’s file, and save it under a new name. If your experiment doesn’t work, you can always go back to the old version.
Enjoy yourself. 🙂
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Updated: May 8, 2021