in Author Skills

6 Tricks to Beating Pesky Procrastination

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Now and Later Checkboxes on a blackboard.

Do you ever find yourself pushing writing off until near your deadline? Or do you get so frustrated with yourself that you cannot concentrate on writing your book anymore? Whatever your reason is, don’t worry; we’re here to help you cure the common cold of writing—procrastination.

Procrastination is essentially our will to delay projects and activities liable to take up much of our time and effort. Many of us give into fatigue, disinterest, and distractions (e.g., Netflix, friends, Candy Crush, and so on) to escape our obligation to write. However, with the enforcement of productive habits, procrastination can be combated and eventually diminished.

The following are tips that can aid in your progression over procrastination and get your book published even quicker!

  1. Get Rid of Distractions:

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Distractions such as television, cell phones, friends and family, computers, and social media are the number one cause of procrastination. When you are engaged in outside stimuli, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on the task at hand (writing). So, when you’re about to begin writing, and feel your phone vibrate, turn it off (or on silent) to eliminate being distracted by social media, calls, and texts. It is sometimes helpful to preface on social media that you will be writing at a certain time, and any long pauses in communication are due to focusing on your writing. Of course, cater this tip to your personal writing style, and do what will positively influence your adeptness best.

If you are looking for a firmer approach, there are apps that can help you stay focused on your writing by eliminating outside distractions. One app includes StayFocused. This app is an extension of Google Chrome and when enabled, can restrict the time you spend on time wasting sites. The amount of time StayFocused is enacted is decided by you, but after the designated time has elapsed, you are free to peruse any sites you wish. This app may be preferable for those authors finding themselves on social media sites more than they should be.

  1. Get Comfortable:

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This does not mean go on Netflix and grab your iPad to surf the web; it means, get into a comfortable state that will enable you to write effectively and easily. For some, this may include staying home, getting into lounge-wear, playing a classical station on Pandora or white noise on SimplyNoise, and brewing some hot tea. For others, this includes going to a crowded coffee shop, sitting on a rigid wooden chair, and chewing on a scone.

Remember to do what suits your style the best, makes you feel the most comfortable, and helps you get into the writing zone. With that being said, note that not every author is going to work in the same way, and this is not bad, just typical with what your preferences are and what you are accustomed to doing. When you are completely comfortable, you are able to get into the preferred mindset to productively write.

  1. Set Time Limits:

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How you set time limits for yourself is entirely up to you, but a way to cut procrastination significantly is to establish the time you will dedicate to writing. For some, it might be writing from 10 am to 6 pm, and others may want to pace themselves by writing from 8 am to noon and 4 to 8 pm.

If you are feeling antsy, or have writer’s block, do a quick activity that will ease your mind such as taking a walk, folding laundry, playing with a pet, eating a snack, or taking a shower. Do not quit writing and think, I’ll come back to it some other time. This thought is what starts a gnarly case of procrastination. Instead, take time to have a break in any way you would like and come back to your book to push through and continue writing for the day. In fact, this idea is a product of the Pomodoro Technique that insists (when doing a long project) on taking frequent breaks, because breaks have been proven to improve mental agility. So, not only is a break helpful to collect your thoughts and relax, but it also increases your thoughtfulness and mental strength that can be used to continue writing your book.

If your writing time allotted for the day is over and you still feel inspired to keep writing, please do so. It can sometimes be difficult (as a procrastinator) to get into a rhythm, and when one is attained, it is best to ride it out and see where it takes you.

  1. Sleep:

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Ensure you are getting enough sleep each night (seven to nine hours), but not over nine (to keep from feeling groggy). Sleep helps your brain work properly and improves your learning. So a good night’s rest is essential for writers because without it, you cannot write at the same level as if you slept a whole night’s rest. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute describes sleep as imperative in “helping you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.” These three attributes are crucial in the writing process and may factor in how successful your book is.

Possible strategies to keep a healthy sleep schedule include:

  • Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
  • Using relaxation techniques before falling asleep (e.g., a hot bath, yoga, chamomile tea, reading, and so on)
  • Using the hour before bed as “quiet time”
  • Keeping your bedroom quiet and dark as you sleep
  1. Be Accountable:

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Sometimes, it is difficult to remain accountable for your own actions considering the only person you can let down is yourself. So, it is helpful to have a friend or family member who can be there to remind you to write and stay on schedule if you get distracted. This second person becomes more incentive for you to stay on track because there is the potential for embarrassment; this works as motivational power. Ultimately, this second person is a safety net if you start sinking into the clutches of procrastination quicksand. Although it can be scary to have a second person peering over your shoulder (so to speak), it is a positive pressure to not let someone down. An example of this includes going to the gym with a friend each day. Your friend pushes you to go to the gym in the sense that not going with them would cause them to go alone, and let them down. No one intentionally wants to let someone down (no matter the reason), even when you are writing a book, and the person you let down is yourself by not remaining productive.

To put this plan into action, get in contact with a friend or sibling (that will demonstrate tough love) and tell them what you plan to get done. Ask them to check in at appointed times to make sure you are keeping up with your writing goals, and let your fear of disappointing them take hold.

  1. Reward Yourself:

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After a hard day’s work, reward yourself for all your efforts that day! This can be done with ice cream, an Amazon purchase, a date night with your partner(s), and so on. This reward can be thought about during your writing earlier in the day, and may be the incentive that keeps you writing!

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  1. Are you serious about beating procrastination? I’ve been struggling with mine for the last 10 years and read countless books and self help methods. Here is what I’m having best results with. First of all, procrastination bulldozer method has worked wonders for me. I highly recommend you apply it. Secondly, whenever you have a task that takes less than 5 minutes to do, do it right away. No delays. I’m really starting to take control of my life now.

  2. There are also apps out there that force you to write by erasing all of your work if you stop writing for a set amount of time. This is a great tool to use for free writes, just to get the words down on the page.

  3. I was going to respond earlier, but I’ve been putting it off.

    In my last day job I negotiated labor contracts. I learned that you don’t get an agreement until you get to somebody’s deadline. People don’t want to make a mistake, and they want to believe they’ll have a better result if they wait. It’s not procrastination so much as it’s a bargaining strategy. The strategy calls for planning; you have to know what you want, and you have to be able to recognize when your best result is finally available to you.

    I’ve always done my writing at the last minute. That is, I’ve done the getting the words on the paper or the screen at the last minute. But I’ve had a long incubation period, a long planning period, for each story or for each major scene. I work the story out in my head over time, down to paragraphs and key sentences, and then I turn to the computer when I recognize a self-imposed deadline for that story, or for that chapter.

    In bargaining a contract I had to watch for other peoples’ deadlines. In writing the trick is to set and observe deadlines of my own.