How do you avoid procrastinating when you’re supposed to be writing?

This post is in response to the NaBloPoMoUK challenge: a blog post a day throughout November.

We all like to write; some of us are bloggers, some write novels as well, a few of us may be professional writers, earning a living from their craft.  But I’m sure there’s one thing that we’ve all experienced at some time or another: procrastination.

Procrastination is what happens when almost every other activity seems suddenly more appealing that writing.  Think of all the chores we dislike: ironing, washing up, cleaning the bathroom?  Somehow, when there is some difficult writing to do, these things become more attractive and get a lot more attention than they normally would.  The reasons for this are many: maybe the task seems overwhelming, the ideas won’t flow or you just can’t seem to say what you want to say.  Maybe there is so much to do that you develop Millipede Syndrome, so many legs but no idea which one to move first.  Many of us will remember as students being required to produce long essays and how difficult it was to begin.  The anticipation is worse than the actuality, true whether the writing is a 10,000 word dissertation, a novel, or a 500 word blog piece.

I find social media such as Twitter or Facebook to be a major distraction, just waiting for the moment when I can’t seem to get the words to do what I want.  I tell myself if I do the ironing now, I will have more time to write later, but really that’s just putting off the writing.  Or I’ll make a coffee or a telephone call and before I know it, half an hour of good writing time has slipped by and I’m no further forward.

How do we get over it and stop procrastinating?  I give it another name, “fuzzy time”, and use it to let my brain muse on what I’m (supposed to be) writing, or to make some notes, write some salient words or just one paragraph.  Alternatively I write down a few ideas, pursue a couple of them and see what transpires.  Once the words start flowing and you’re writing about something you’re interested in, you can suddenly look up and realise you’ve written 500 words, just like that.  With a bit of editing, the piece is practically written all by itself.

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3 Responses to How do you avoid procrastinating when you’re supposed to be writing?

  1. Ally Bean says:

    I find that I procrastinate online when I get curious about some obscure topic. I google my topic– and then it’s 45 minutes later & I have written nothing. I’ve learned to curb my curiosity somewhat over the years, but I still can lost in a learning expedition.

  2. Susanna says:

    Just set a time. Turn off Twitter. Turn off Facebook. Give yourself 15 minutes in a room with pen and paper, you’ll be surprised what comes out.