I have a riddle for you.
What is the definition of procrastination?Show Answer
Procrastination is the easiest thing in the world to do and hardest thing in the world to avoid. Click To Tweet
1. Block Off Time to Write
I am adamant that this is the most important element for someone that wants to be a serious writer. I’ve said it on Nothing Any Good before. If you want to take your writing seriously, than block off the time to write.
Unless you have no other responsibilities in life other than writing that next book, you can’t just wait around for moments of inspiration to strike. You have to set aside time to sit down and write. If you don’t, you’ll usually find a reason not to.
2. Write When It’s Time to Write
Once you’ve become disciplined enough to block off time to write, whether that’s everyday or a number of times a week, the next step is to actually write during that allotted time. In today’s media-at-our-fingertips-age, it’s so easy to become distracted by the latest reality show, or your friend’s pics of Paris, or that blog post about avoiding procrastination. (I know it’s bad business, but if you’re supposed to be writing right now, stop reading this damn article and go write! What are you doing?!)
In my own writing, I’ve found I have to write when I’ve blocked off time to for it. Sometimes the words feel stale and clunky. Other times sentences string together like poetic beauty. It doesn’t matter. When you’re supposed to be writing, just write. Worry about the quality during the editing process.
When you’re supposed to be writing, just write. Worry about the quality during the editing process. Click To Tweet
3. Set Daily or Weekly Goals
A lot of writers I know set daily or weekly word goals. They decide they want to write 500 words each day, or 5000 words each week. That’s great. It doesn’t work well for me, but if it works for you, go for it.
However, there are other goals that work very well for me. Write one blog post today. Follow up on emails and social media items today. Contact my editor for feedback on a new chapter today. Sit down with the interview questions from that website today.
For indie writers, writing isn’t just about writing. There’s far more to it than putting those words on the paper. In order to manage it all, you need to set goals for what you want to accomplish this week.
Now that you’re setting goals, make sure you’re prioritizing the right goals. Maybe pinning 25 news posts to your Pinterest board today is high priority, but I doubt it. I suspect you’re probably putting off more important items to get that done.
The highest priority, of course, should almost always be to write. If you haven’t written anything, then marketing your yet-to-be-finished book is not exactly a high priority item. Learn to prioritize.
5. Better Manage Your Time
Maybe writing that next chapter is too difficult when your kids get home from school or when your husband is watching a show next to you on the couch. If that’s the case, let’s not block off that time for writing. Maybe consider putting your writing hours midday instead of in the evening.
For myself, I find it impossible to get quality work done if there’s a lot of commotion around me. I can do some mindless tasks–social media, looking in your direction–but I certainly can’t write or edit if there’s activity around me. Since this is the case, I’ve learned to block off time for those tasks when I know I will have a surrounding environment that will allow me to focus.
6. Take Time for Yourself
It seems obvious, but you would be surprised how often we don’t think about this. Remember to take time for yourself. If you love to run, go running. If you meditate or pray, set aside time for that. If you love to play an instrument, play.
You will be far, far, far more productive if you take the time to care for yourself. If the only question in front of you is, “Should I write at this very moment or should I take time for myself because I’m too stressed,” scientific research answers resoundingly that you should take time for yourself. It’s not even close.
In Arianna Huffinton’s book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, she presents overwhelming research on how the self-care will profoundly affect your productivity. “If you take care of your mind, you take care of the world,” Huffington writes.
I guess this brings us full circle. The 6th Tip for avoiding procrastination is, in fact, to procrastinate (if you’re taking care of yourself with that time).
The 6th Tip for avoiding procrastination is, in fact, to procrastinate. Click To Tweet
Keep writing away, friends! Keep at it and you’ll reach your goals! Don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter, share on social media, and provide feedback below if you agree or disagree. I love to hear from you!
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These are all good ideas, Dan. In my case, I didn’t begin writing until after I retired from 31 years of teaching high school English. My wife didn’t follow me into retirement for another three years, and I spent much of that period in her kindergarten classroom, doing whatever I could to help her (passing out and collecting papers, running off material on the Xerox machine upstairs, working with kids in small groups, etc.), but I also found time each day to just sit somewhere (in her office, outside when the weather permitted, in the classroom itself during nap time each afternoon) and work on my first book. That experience taught me the importance of disciplining myself to try to write on a regular basis. Like you, I’m not big on setting daily word-total goals, but I do think it’s important to sit somewhere where you’re undisturbed and can concentrate solely on your writing. Lose yourself in the world you are creating. Before you know it, that world will be ready for its introduction to your readers.
Three things Bob:
(1) I love that you called it a Xerox machine for so many reasons.
(2) Did you “pass out” to help your wife or does papers modify both passing out and collecting? I know the answer, but I really want it to be the former. It would imply your wife getting tired of you and the solution to be passing out, which makes me laugh for some reason.
(3) It’s so true. In my experience, discipline goes a long way in being a professional. That might mean something different to everyone. It doesn’t have to be regimented or scheduled or timed, but you do need to have discipline for your craft and learn what works for you.
I retired in 1999, Dan, at the age of 53, and back then, we were definitely using Xerox machines. And if I’d been doing half the work that my wife did every day with her kindergarten classes of anywhere from 28-36 kids (all day kindergarten, with no teacher’s aid), I most assuredly would have “passed out” way before lunch. I love reading “Nothing Any Good.” Keep on writing!
I like it both because of the dated reference and because I’m an Intellectual Property nerd and there’s a Trademark context about marks becoming generic. (In a way too watered down way–Marks can become generic and people can lose their marks. Think Kleenex. Or Chapstick. Or Xerox.)
Like I said, I’m a nerd.
I am the product of two teachers myself, Bob. My sister and two sisters-in-law are teachers too. Teachers give us so much of themselves and as a society, at least here in the States, we tend to give them so little back. It’s really sad. Your wife is a saint in my book!
My wife and I both thank you for your very kind compliment regarding Cynthia. Given your family connections to the profession, it’s no surprise that you “get it” when it comes to the conditions under which so many teachers labor these days. As is the case in most fields, especially those involving public service, all it usually takes is some sort of one-on-one relationship with someone you know and trust. So, again, thanks!