Ways to Beat Procrastination and Start Writing

Ways to Beat Procrastination and Start Writing

The American author, Joseph Heller, once said, “Every writer I know has trouble writing.”

And he’s not the only one who has alluded to the difficulty of writing.

Stephen King’s quote, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” – reinforces the same point.

Writing is hard work. It just is.

Even if you’re a good writer with a flair for the art, the act of putting pen to paper (or keyboard to screen) is almost always met with some internal resistance.

In fact, Steven Pressfield, wrote an entire book on it and called it ‘The War of Art’.

And it really is a war.

The anticipation of writing has struck fear in many a budding writer’s heart and caused them to procrastinate into eternity.

The road to publishing success is littered with the dusty skeletons of many wannabe writers who abandoned their writing halfway… and even more who never got started.

All due to procrastination.

Many fledgling writers often feel that they lack self-discipline and are inveterate procrastinators. While this may be true to some extent, it’s important to note that even the pros face similar challenges. You’re not alone.

The key to overcoming procrastination and getting your writing done will come down to you applying a few simple techniques and discovering effective ways to beat procrastination.

1. Have a daily routine

The importance of a daily routine cannot be overstated. You have to make writing a habit.

What does that mean?

Ways to Beat Procrastination and Start Writing; Have a daily routine

It means you have to spend some time writing every single day. You should also aim to make it the same time daily.

For example, sitting down at the same desk at the same place, every single day at 9 AM to write.

By establishing a routine, you’ll make it easier on yourself when it comes to compliance. Your mind will be less resistant to the activity since it’s a habit.

But should you write on weekends?

Only you can answer this question. If you face immense resistance within yourself before you can write, that means the procrastination force is strong with you – and not in a good way.

It would be wise to write on weekends too, but for a shorter duration so that inertia/resistance never gets a chance to build up, and you also have more time to rest. Even 20-30 minutes of writing will do.

 It’s the habit you’re focusing on. An object in motion stays in motion. An object at rest stays at rest – and procrastinates while at rest.

2. Write in blocks

How much you can write and how long you can write will depend on your typing/writing speed and your writing ‘stamina’. An experienced writer may be able to write for 4 hours at a go without any breaks.

A beginner writer may feel mentally drained and about to lose his/her soul after an hour. They lack writing stamina, but this can be built up gradually. Ideally, you should aim to work in 2-hour blocks.

For example, you may write from 9-11 AM and take a break for an hour and write again from 12-2 PM. In this way, you’d get 4 hours of writing done.

Depending on your writing stamina, initially you may wish to go with 30-minute writing sprints, followed by a 15-minute break and then another 30 minutes and so on. You could use a Pomodoro timer to help you.

There’s no right or wrong answer here. As long as you’re striving to build your writing stamina, you’re on the write track. Pun fully intended.

3. Batch your tasks

Planning, researching, outlining, writing and editing are 5 DIFFERENT tasks. Never try to do them all at the same time. This will not only tire you out, but is also very time-consuming and unproductive.

Batching your tasks means getting similar tasks done at once. This not only simplifies the process, but helps to accelerate it while increasing your output. It’s a win-win-win situation.

ways to beat procrastination; Batch your tasks

For example, if your goal is to write 10 articles on gardening, your first task will be to decide what topics you’ll cover.

Then you’ll need to do your research for ALL 10 articles.

Once the research is completed, you’ll outline each article with brief points that you’d have compiled from your research.

When all that’s done, now you’re ready to start writing… and keep writing without editing.

Always remember the quote, “Write drunk. Edit sober”.

Once you’ve written all 10 articles, you can edit them individually. By batching your tasks in this way, you’ll save time and your writing process will not be a disjointed and discombobulated one.

4. Focus on quality

Avoid perfectionism at all costs. It’s not natural, and nothing is ever perfect. The goal is to aim for excellence. Write quality content that you can be proud of.

Do not focus on the quantity of the content. This is an unreliable metric to rely on.

You may notice that on some days, all you may manage is 5 pages in 2 hours. Yet, your writing for these 5 pages may be far superior than the 15 pages you wrote another day.

The point to note here is that your goal should be to just start writing and stay focused during your writing block. The amount of content you create shouldn’t matter, and setting a goal of ‘writing 20 pages a day’ is counter-productive and will stress you out.

Good writing takes time. Quality and quantity are two different metrics.

Your goal is to write content that informs and moves your readers – and you want to do so in as few words as possible. That’s real skill and a sign of good writing.

Focus on quality and forget about quantity. You’re not planting rice here.

5. The Two-Minute Rule

This rule was first mentioned by author, David Allen, and it’s a very powerful technique of overcoming procrastination. It works with most activities that people tend to procrastinate. Eg exercise, writing, studying, etc.

The rule is simple. When you’re facing a task that you don’t wish to do (like writing), you should give yourself just 2 minutes to work on it.

It’s as simple as that. 2 short minutes.

This time is short enough for it not to be overwhelming… BUT it’s also long enough to break the wall of inertia and get you moving.

Very often, you’ll notice that once you start writing for 2 minutes, you’ll carry on long after the 2 minutes are over. You just might write for the next 2 hours.

You’ll then wonder what made you hesitate for so long. It wasn’t that bad, was it?

Of course not.

You’ve just discovered a mysterious anomaly when it comes to writing… getting yourself to sit down and start is usually far more difficult than the actual act of writing.

But now, you have the key to beat Captain Procrastination of the writing universe aka you – all it takes is 2 minutes.

In conclusion, it’s important to understand that the act of writing is not as dreadful as the thought of doing it. In fact, you might actually enjoy the process and find that it unleashes your creativity and may also be cathartic.

Apply the 5 pointers in this article and you’ll put an end to procrastination and be able to write – without first checking your emails 382 times as you try to delay the inevitable.

It’s easy once you start.

“Start writing no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour

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