Overcoming the {writing} procrastinator within

Daniella Dautrich returns as a guest blogger today. I always enjoy sharing with you her thoughts and experiences with writing!

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pleasantly adriftLET’S FACE it: when it comes to writing, most of us, at one time or another, have procrastinated. Blog posts, reference letters, business reports, and articles find themselves sitting on the back burners of our lives.

Nothing speaks louder than “example” when encouraging children, especially older students, in their writing pursuits. This means that we need to take time to develop good attitudes and habits toward writing.

Bad Motivators

As a chronic procrastinator, I can attest to the failure of two false motivators:

Guilt

Self-deprecating thoughts such as “They’ve probably lost all respect for me by now” or “I’m always letting people down” are counterproductive.

Rather than truly change your procrastinating habits, they prompt you to take on the character of a grump. Now you’re upset with yourself—and more than likely affecting the mood of everyone around you, children included.

Remember, we want to be fully alive as writers, not crouching in self-made corners of guilt and shame.

Bribes

For true-blue procrastinators, the promise of rewards and treats at the end of a project simply won’t work. We may admire other people who are wired to work first and play later, to eat vegetables first and dessert later.

If you’re not wired that way, be honest with yourself. Until lightning strikes and your personality is permanently altered, you’ll eat the cookie before the project is done, every time.

Don’t make the chocolate chips (or molasses or peanut butter) your writing motivation in the first place.

Positively Proactive

That said, there’s still good news. At least three strategies have worked for me, and they can transform your inner world of writing as well!

1. Develop a sense of curiosity

Always be aware of the general topic for your next writing project. Think of questions, as well as questions your readers might ask, when you’re out driving and shopping, and when you’re busy at home with chores and yard work.

Keep a mental list, or carry a small pad to jot down notes throughout the day. When you have ideas to play with instead of a blank slate, the keyboard and computer screen lose much of their terror. (Remember, yesterday’s questions are today’s paragraph topics!)

Follow this strategy to keep your mind active, and you’ll hardly be able to keep yourself from sitting down and writing.

2. Develop a routine

Set a certain time of day to write, and ask your family to keep you accountable.

If you have an inconsistent schedule (bedtimes and waking up and mealtimes in a daily state of flux), that’s okay. Even a simple routine, such as reviewing your writing topic each morning and choosing the next day’s project before falling asleep at night, can be a powerful tool.

3. Keep a “success” list in a prominent place

This is not your to-do list! Only keep track of writing projects you’ve actually finished. Don’t forget to include several ostentatious checkmarks, stickers, or smiley faces.

Constantly refer back, remembering all you’ve accomplished. You might have heard that completing tasks can trigger endorphin release in your brain; whether or not that’s true, the knowledge of success is a delicious feeling.

Every project you finish will motivate you to move forward and complete more tasks. Let the race begin!

Samuel Johnson said: “A man may write at any time, if he will set himself doggedly to it.” We can all use more discipline in our lives, but I believe that curiosity and wonder, time for planning and pondering, and celebration of our achievements are all valuable habits in their own right.

Your Turn!

What do you think? How you overcome procrastination? Share your favorite tips below!

Thanks to Daniella Dautrich for joining us as a guest blogger. Daniella is a homeschool graduate and WriteShop alumna. A happily married writer and homemaker, she blogs at www.waterlilywriter.wordpress.com.

 Photos: Jimi Glide and Karen Lee, courtesy of Creative Commons

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy.

 

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2 comments ↓

#1 Kim on 06.11.12 at 7:04 am

Love this article, Daniella! I especially appreciate your suggestion of keeping a list of finished writing projects as a reminder of accomplishment. Thanks for a great guest post!

#2 Daniella Dautrich on 06.11.12 at 2:25 pm

Thanks, Kim! It’s such a pleasure to join the team of creative voices here at “In Our Write Minds.”

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