3 Procrastination Busters that Pack a Punch for Writers
Do you want to be successful in your writing career? Then you must work hard to show procrastination the door. Tell it to take a hike. Maybe a long hike up Mount Everest. With any luck, it won't make it back. (Yeah right!)
Being serious, procrastination is really about how we feel about a particular task or how we think we will feel while doing it or after completing it. Have you ever felt anxious about a task, but once you did it you realized it wasn't so bad?
Writing is a lot like that. Once you go through the motions, you start getting the hang of it. It becomes easier. There are still road blocks along the way, but those are normal. If you don't experience any resistance at all, something's not right and you'll want to ask yourself what it could be.
If you're new to the process of submitting your work, whether it is a query or a book proposal with the first three chapters, the best way to overcome your anxiety is to study a query or book proposal, write your own, and send it out. Just do it. Even if it isn't perfect. The process of sending out your first "one" will help you jump over that hurdle.
I think we make things more complicated than they really are. Writing a query is a simple matter. I talked about how to write a better query in a previous post. I don't know why sending our stuff out is so hard. We spend hours writing and tweaking the letters, then decide we don't know how to do them and the one we just wrote isn't good enough. The best remedy for this is to send it out anyway.
The first hurdle is sending it out. Once we get past that, we can move on because we realize it wasn't that hard.
We'll still struggle with the second one, but maybe not as much as the first one.
The best procrastination buster is "Just Do It!"
In my business coaching program with Sandi Krakowski, we made sticky notes that read, "Just Do It!" and even wrote it on our bathroom mirrors and other places. I have the message written on my bathroom mirror in liquid foundation, on my desktop as two large tiles across my screen, and on a sticky note stuck to my monitor. I can't get away from that message. I see it all the time.
The second buster is "You Are Good Enough!"
Writers struggle with self-doubt all the time. We sit down to write with a great idea in our minds of how a scene or story should play out, but then when our fingers hit the keys and start to type, we have trouble getting the words down just right.
"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with." – William Faulkner
The third buster is "It's NOT killing you. Keep working!"
I have a tendency to say to myself, "This is killing me," meaning I'll never get this done in time, I'm so exhausted just thinking about this topic, I don't want to write this, I'd rather be doing something else…
When I put a sticky note up on my wall above my monitor that says that, I was sending myself a message.
If we want to write, we must get past the things that hold us back, the things that get us to quit. I don't want to quit. I refuse to ever quit my dream of writing. I've already tried it and it doesn't work; it won't go away. It's that thing that always comes back to me whether I like it or not. Don't get me wrong: I love to write. It's just a lot of hard work!
I grew up with strong perseverance skills – I can stick to something that I really want until I'm blue in the face, but I never learned that some difficult-to-accomplish things are worth sticking to long enough to actually experience success, that all that hard work is worth it in the end. I came to realize that it's easier being average. What's the point of trying so hard when you won't get there anyway? Going to college to be a doctor was my best bet. At that time, I had never considered I could actually make a living writing.
Now, looking back, I kick myself for letting this much time go by. But I've been working hard at accepting it and moving forward instead of focusing on the past. I can't go back and change the past. The only thing I can do now is do my best in the present and the future and work toward my writing goals so I can enjoy my life.
Have you let procrastination and all the other forms of resistance get in the way of your dreams? It's not too late to work toward them. Do your best and let go of the past.
If you are willing to admit that procrastination has held you back (and even if you're not), I invite you to say hello on Facebook. Let me know if these tips have helped you and what would help you to move forward now. And if you have any success stories, we would love to hear them. Writers need a strong support group and we need to come together and encourage each other to fulfill our writing dreams.