How To Stop Procrastinating,
and How To Get Started On Your Writing
Writing is hard. So you avoid it.
When you're supposed to start writing, literally any other task seems easier, more fun, and more important. You delay your writing. You wait for inspiration or motivation. You try wiggling your way out of the writing task altogether. You spend time "researching," then fall into an Internet wormhole.
And then your writing doesn't get done... and now you're stressed out, or worse, disappointed in yourself.
As your writing tutor, I'll ask you to do a couple important things in this situation.
First is, go easy on yourself. I struggle with procrastination, too. Everybody does.
And second, believe in yourself. You have the power to act, to choose to get started on your writing, and therefore you have the power to beat procrastination.
Let's consider some strategies.
1. Think of procrastination like hunger.
Hunger is part of our nature, and it attacks us daily. You beat hunger with food, multiple times a day. You beat procrastination with action, multiple times a day.
2. Think of your enemy as the procrastination, not the writing task.
In other words, this battle is not "You vs. Your Writing." This battle is "You vs. Your Procrastination." And you're about to win.
3. Remind yourself: "I don't want to DO this task, but I do want this task DONE."
It's completely fine, and normal, to feel like you don't want to write. Accept your discomfort. Allow it, and embrace it. You might say to yourself, "Yup, this sucks. Yup, I don't like this. And yup, I'm going to do it anyway, because that's how I'll make this task go away."
4. Rob your writing task of its size, scariness, and complexity.
Chop it into small pieces, focus on the first piece, and walk yourself through it. You might say to yourself, "Literally the only thing I have to do right now is write the first sentence of this paragraph. I know how to write a sentence. So I'll write this one and be done with it."
And if you find yourself saying, "Actually, I don't know how to write this," then ask for help.
5. Rob your writing task of its ability to stretch out in time, taking longer than you want it to.
You do this by scheduling each specific task and a reward for completing it. Your calendar might look like this:
Now you've put your writing task in its place. You won't allow it to steal time or joy from you.
You've blocked off, let's say, one hour for the writing task. And one hour for your reward. Now you've given yourself something to look forward to. You won't let your writing time bleed into your reward time--but you'll definitely start the reward time early if you finish the writing ahead of schedule! So, you'll keep up your pace.
6. Use your phone's calendar or alarm app to beep at you when it's time to write.
The beep is your cue to sit down and grab a pencil or open a document on the computer.
Yes, this part is the hardest: transitioning yourself from whatever task you were doing before into the task of writing. Try saying to yourself, "Yup, it's hard to transition, but the only thing I have to do right now is open my document and read my prompt."
Once you've gotten started, you'll witness your own momentum, which is motivating.
7. As you write, bask in the glory of your victory over procrastination.
Seriously, try it! It's a way to increase your confidence for next time.
Think, "Check me out. Procrastination came at me, and I beat it down. I've got power over it. It'll come for me again later, and I'll beat it then, too."