Last week I started a new series here on the blog, “Writer Problems.” Naturally the idea is to offer solutions, but I’m always happy to get suggestions. Feel free to reply in the comments below.
Whereas last week’s blog was a lengthy meditation on insomnia, today I want to present a short post about procrastination.
Why short? So I don’t put off working on projects today!
Some of the Ways We Do It
Writers as a group are notorious procrastinators, and a list of how we put things off could be hilariously long. Rather than try to come up with a large number of them, I’m going to address three common types of procrastination.
1) Avoiding the work until the deadline draws closer. This is so common, it’s not even funny. And of course, it applies not only to writers but also to people of all sorts.
I have a big project for a particular client this month, consisting of 21 articles. I got the assignment early, so I wrote article #1 last Friday, the 30th. That meant I was able to rationalize taking off both Saturday and Sunday (I had so many other things to do!), knowing I could write article #2 today, the 2nd. See how that works?
2) Not blocking out time to work on projects. This is a problem for people who write on the side, but even full-time professional writers fall prey to finding all sorts of other things that have to be done—balancing the checkbook, cleaning the house, and so on, ad infinitum. Failing to block out time is a biggie.
3) Letting everything but writing be a priority. For full-time writers like myself, it’s not an option. But if you don’t work as a writer full-time, or even part-time, it’s easy to shuffle writing down the priority list.
Here’s How We Fix It
1) Master the calendar. If you have to get certain writing-related tasks done—including editing and proofreading—then you have to make sure the calendar doesn’t master you. Which leads me to…
2) Block out the time. A big part of mastering the calendar, for me, is blocking out time devoted exclusively to writing. The 21 articles I have to write this month are a good example. This client anticipates us writers taking an hour and a half per article, so I block out an hour and a half every single afternoon for the project. I may occasionally deviate from it a bit, but the blocks are on my calendar.
3) Make writing a priority. Finally, if you want to be a writer, you have to write. When you work at it full-time like me, it’s a necessity, not a hobby. If anything, I have to remember to prioritize other tasks as well—marketing my business, adding new projects to the pipeline, etc. But you must do these three things, block out time, master the calendar, and make writing a priority, if you want to get anything of substance finished.
And now I’m off to write some other stuff. Happy writing, friends, and I look forward to your comments and questions!