Change procrastination to productivity.
Does this sound like something you need? Yes? I have to admit there are times when I’m a champion procrastinator. Yes, it’s true. Sometimes attacking the ironing pile seems like way more fun than sitting down to write. On days like this it can take me hours to pound out my target number of words, and each one is dragged from me kicking and screaming.
2011 was a bad writing year for me, and after months of writing nothing new, I had to do something drastic. I don’t believe in writers’ block, so my lack of writing came down to a combination of procrastination/laziness and plain fear because my confidence was at an all-time low. Once I admitted this, it was easier to formulate a plain.
Here are some strategies I used for dealing with my procrastination.
1. I set myself a realistic target of 2000 words per day. When I’m in the groove this is the amount of words I can write comfortably day after day without suffering burnout.
2. Whenever practical I leave the house to write. These days the trendy word is “coffice”, which is a coffee shop that is used as an office, hence the word coffice. When you look around, it’s surprising how many people actually work in cafés. They conduct interviews, have meetings and complete paperwork. I write. I’ve trained myself to concentrate and write through any noise and tend to get a lot done.
3. Recruit a team to help. I meet with one of my girlfriends on a regular basis, and we write. We’ve made a rule that we don’t chat until we’ve completed our words for the day. Having another person present helps to keep me honest.
4. If you’re on Twitter, join in with the 1K word challenge. The object is to write 1000 words in an hour. Just post a call on Twitter and ask if anyone is interested in a writing challenge. Start writing, and once the hour is finished report back with the number of words you’ve completed. Try this once or twice a day and the words will mount up in no time.
5. Plan on writing for a specified amount of time, set a timer, and don’t stop writing or move until the timer goes off. The first few times might be a bit rough, but you’ll soon get the hang of it and your WIP will grow in length.
6. I don’t plot. I’m one of those writers who fly into the mist with little to no idea about what comes next. To help me get into the flow of writing each day, I end each session by jotting brief notes of plot points that I hope to write the next day. I like to finish my writing session this way because it focuses my mind. For the rest of the evening my characters and the situation I’ve left them in floats around my mind. This provides me with a roadmap. It might be rough, but it stops me from giving in to procrastination because I’m not really sure what comes next.
7. Flex those muscles! If you write every day, it becomes a habit. If you stop writing or give in to procrastination your writing muscles become weak. Use it or lose it. Get into good habits and write consistently.
8. Get to know your rhythms. I write best in the morning. For you it might be late evenings after the kids are in bed. Match your writing time with your own personal rhythms for high productivity.
These are the strategies I’ve used to get out of my writing funk. 2011 ended on a high note, and I’m determined to continue on this path for 2012.
How do you cope with procrastination? And while we’re at it—do you believe in writer’s block?
Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a rambunctious puppy. She writes hot and spicy romance for Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing and mysteries for Carina Press. Her latest release CAT BURGLAR IN TRAINING is a contemporary mystery, now available from Carina Press. To learn more about Shelley and her books visit her website at http://www.shelleymunro.com
(And because she lives in New Zealand, her responses to your comments won't be immediate! But don't let that stop you; she'll get here when it's 'normal' time where she is.)
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