Guilty as Charged: 1st Degree Writing Procrastination
Procrastination is a complex subject, but is particularly troubling with writing procrastination. Who hasn’t procrastinated writing a term paper? Or who hasn’t procrastinated to the point of having to stay up all night?
I had planned to write this article five days ago. Each day I didn’t write the article, a negative twinge of guilt grew. Now that I have overcome my disease it, I find it amusing I procrastinated writing an article on writing procrastination! The ironic thing is that once I got going, the article only took 20 minutes to write! The danger with procrastination in writing is that it can lead to a downward cycle through further guilt, anxiety, doubt, loss of self-esteem, inspiration. This can lead to a cascade of procrastination events, eventually leading to “writer’s block.” How can we stop writing procrastination in its tracks? First, identify what type of writing procrastination might be experiencing. Writing procrastination can be caused by three underlying issues:
Perfectionism: This is one classic cause of writing procrastination. In the mind’s eye we imagine the writing piece to be unrealistically grandiose. Deep down, however, we know the writing will only be “perfect” after several rewrites, edits, and proofreading. Knowing that it will not be “perfect” right off, we chose not to do it at all. The solution is to break up your writing assignments into smaller sections, and rough drafts, such as Rough Draft One: Chapter One, Section One. Write emotionally and passionately, knowing later you will come back for Rough Draft Two: Chapter One, Section One, and so on. Name your files as such. Remove perfectionism pressure by doing small pieces on a weekly or daily basis.
Deadlines: Believe it or not, deadlines can cause procrastination. Deadlines are necessary in writing else we would never see a daily newspaper! However, if you are writing on your own, deadlines can be deadly. Depending on your personality, deadlines may be too much pressure. If you tend to rebel at the thought of time pressure, go easy, and approach writing in a gentler way. Perhaps joining a writing group will inspire you to write. You can share your writing without the pressure of writing for an artificial deadline.
Inspiration: If you are not inspired, no words will spring from your pen, or keyboard. So stop trying to write and instead get inspired. How do you get inspired? This is different for different writers. If you find that as you sit down to write, you have nothing to say, use your writing time to get inspired. Go for a walk in a beautiful setting, or take a hot bubble bath! Put on your favorite music, sit and meditate for a while. Plugging into the muse is key in getting your flow going. Share your tricks for overcoming procrastination in the comments below.