Procrastination serves as an escape. You’re juggling kids, work, after-school activities, your spouse’s needs, walking the dog, trying to go on vacation. How can you possibly fit in writing a book? It’s impossible, right? Yet, every year thousands of new books are published.
It’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t have a plan of action. You could create an outline for your book. You could sit in front of your computer and write 500 words. You could take a walk and exercise and plan your story at the same time. Instead, you find other things to occupy your time: reading your email, shopping online, chatting with your friends on Facebook, buying yet another book on how to write a bestseller. There’s nothing wrong with reading your email. And buying a new book might provide the motivation to write. But if you don’t start writing today, when will you begin?
Why You Procrastinate
Millions of people dream of achieving big goals. The New York Times bestseller list. Book signings with the line out the door and around the block. Your book turned into a movie.
You know how to dream. So what’s stopping you?
Not following your dreams is an act of self-sabotage. You may have a fear of failure. You may even have a fear of success. Or you’re afraid to rock the boat.
What’s the Payoff?
Long before I knew anything about writing I dreamed of being an author. Authors seemed to wear that mysterious shawl of fame and fortune. It didn’t matter what you wrote as long as you wrote something. But how could I be an author? I didn’t know how to write.
And I was afraid to try.
Years later when I’d learned how to write, I still suffered from fear. I would never write as well as Nora Roberts. I could never create the fast-paced stories that many authors do. My characters were weak, my plots mired in quicksand, my scenes boring. I might as well just give up now.
Whether you have a fear of failure or a fear of success, procrastination protects you from criticism.
What Are the Drawbacks?
Fear is uncomfortable. Physically, mentally, and emotionally uncomfortable. If it were easy to break through that barrier of fear, you would have. Your book would be finished, raking in the big bucks, and on the bestseller list. If only you could get past that fear.
You may be protecting yourself. You may be protecting your family or your friends. Heaven forbid they should be jealous. You’re the glue that holds the family together, the dependable one. If you step out of your comfort zone, other people may feel threatened.
Feelings can get out of control. And those feelings can lead to stress. Why cause yourself more unnecessary stress? Writing isn’t worth the trouble.
Or is it?
What to Do About It
Breaking a bad habit requires commitment. Change doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen if you’re willing and determined.
First, be aware of your thoughts. How many times a day do you experience negative thoughts around writing? If you’ve never paid attention, start now. Write down those negative thoughts in a journal, on your computer, in a pad of paper by your bed. These are the culprits you want to harness. These are the roots of your procrastination.
Second, procrastination is an emotional behavior. You need a method or program that allows you to change your emotions. Choose one that resonates with you. Meditation, EFT (tapping), the Sedona Method, and The Work by Byron Katie are examples of ways to reprogram your thinking.
Third, be patient. Unraveling those strangleholds may take time. And beating yourself up or getting mad at your weakness only serves to reinforce the issue. So be kind.
Fourth, persist. Every day that you work to release those negative thoughts and fears about writing will result in a brighter, more optimistic you.
Commit to yourself, and to the universe, that you’re serious and you will follow through. Then take action—WRITE!—and be open to opportunity. A critique group opens up. A new editor comes to your networking event. You go to a conference and learn the 5 best ways to structure your writing. When you do the work, the universe takes notice and begins to reward you.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Take it easy on yourself in the beginning. Beware of trying to do too much.
Don’t over schedule. Start with writing for 30 minutes or an hour. Give yourself a task you can accomplish. Then celebrate your success. You want to feel good when you finish.
Don’t’ wait until you’re tired. Creativity requires a calm but active brain. If you’re tired you can’t focus. Choose a time to write when you’re alert and excited. Then start writing. Let your fingers to do the walking over the computer keyboard. No censoring allowed.
Don’t give up. As one of my favorite coaches says, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. If you write 300 words today, that’s 300 more words than the day before. The little bits add up. At the end of the year you’ll have 109,500 words, which is more than enough for a book. You can do that!
So stop procrastinating. Start writing!