Saturday, August 29, 2015

Procrastination—An Evil Lurking

To make any headway in writing, you have to get started, and often starting is the toughest part of the job. For many writers, perhaps you, procrastination is a force to be reckoned with. It can slow down or stall even the most creative of writers. Procrastination can be a deep psychological situation involving fear of failure or success, or a natural result of overload. Sometimes you simply don't know where to start.

In order to fight this monster, you must first know what it is. Procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority tasks with those of lower priority, especially if the lower priority ones provide enjoyment. Writing can be stressful at times—let’s face it, lots of times. Deadlines can loom overhead like giant alien spaceships. Generally, those lower priority tasks are things that you can do later or perhaps not at all.

Just because you procrastinate doesn’t mean that you don’t have the motivation or willpower to complete a writing project. Perhaps the project is too big or maybe your skills aren’t developed enough to handle it. While you may be motivated to write a particular book, for example, you may not have the resources or knowledge to do so. This leads to putting it off as long as possible. Simply trying harder won’t do it. You must understand what triggered you to procrastinate in the first place.

One of the most common triggers for writers is the fear of rejection. Every writer, from novice to experienced professional harbors this fear at some time or another. Too prevent the fear of rejection from overwhelming you, the best thing to do is have several projects going at once. If one fails, you’ve got the others as backup. And who knows, the rejection of one you had hopes for may cause you to put more effort into another which may go on to be a bestseller. Let’s face it. Not all writing projects are meant to be successful.

When battling procrastination, consider whether you tend to do better when working with other people or relying on yourself. Then choose your technique.

There are four ways that you can call on other people to help you do what you ought to be doing.

First, tell someone what you're going to do and by when. Accountability is built into an office work environment when you work for someone else, but when you work for yourself, you don’t have anyone to remind you to get to work. Tell your spouse or your best friend what you’re planning to do and by when. Ask either to check on your progress.

Second, if you procrastinate because you don't like or know your task very well, simply swap jobs with someone. Perhaps you can ask a friend to do some research for you or maybe some accounting while you get on with your writing. If each person does what he or she does best, you’ll both win.

Third, collaborate with someone on a project. Working with someone else can help get the job started and done faster because you now have a shared commitment and two minds and pairs of hands. Writers often collaborate on a book with an expert or another writer, especially if it’s a particularly difficult subject.

As the sole owner of your writing business, you can do only so much. There are only so many hours in the day. Why not ask for help? Delegate tasks to a student intern seeking experience or pay someone to do clerical work for you like filing.

Other things that may cause you to procrastinate are distractions. Is your office cluttered with papers that need to be filed? Does your house need cleaning? Does your garden call out to you to be tended? All of these can keep you away from your work. To make sure you don’t spend all your time on them, schedule each for specific times during the week. By doing a little each day of any of your chores, you’ll not only get them done but get your writing done, too.

If you need or prefer to lean on yourself to beat procrastination, there are plenty of ways to do that.

You can jump right in. Kids do that when they’re swimming at a pool. Most just jump in. The faster you get to work, the faster you’ll get finished.

You can also take it one step at a time. Any project can be achieved the same way, one step at a time so take a small step and beat procrastination.