How to Stop Procrastinating and Write Your Book
Whether it’s been handing in your homework late, putting off doing a big report for your boss, or making any excuse to not sit at your desk, procrastination hits us all. The choice to stop procrastinating is admirable, but how can you actually achieve it?
Stop procrastination at the root
Work out why
Before diving head first into writing your novel, it’s good to try and understand why you’ve failed beforehand. Is there a fundamental reason why you keep stumbling?
And this could be for a mixture of reasons. It might be that the idea you have simply doesn’t work. It’s important to know when to quit an idea and when your idea just needs pivoting. For example, perhaps your concept is just too big for a standalone book. Should it be a series?
Another reason might be that you simply haven’t thought your novel through enough. If you’re a writer who leans more towards planning than winging it, you may need to mull over the story some more. And remember, thinking is a form of writing. Internalising your concept where you’re slowly immersing yourself in the book helps to develop your voice and style. It will make things a lot easier when it comes to the actual writing.
Make sure you identify what the obstacle is, so you can tackle it, move on, and stop procrastinating.
What’s your motivation?
Is this something you care about?
A silly question, you might think. But your answer really matters if you want to stop procrastinating. You’re more likely to stick with something if you truly care about it. And one thing is for sure, if your motivation is money, then look somewhere else. Yes, writers can make money and be very successful, but as it’s not a certainty, another motivation should be sought.
Some writers write because they want to entertain people, or because they promised someone they’d finally write a book, or because they simply want the catharsis of finishing their life-long ambition to write a novel.
What is your motivation? This will help you to keep opening up that notebook or laptop and creating your story.
Big and small targets
Once you’ve discovered the root of your procrastination and identified your motivation, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and write.
To give yourself the best start, you need to outline overall aims and set smaller daily targets. For example, your overall aim could be to write the first draft in a year. You can then break up the months, weeks, even days, with other smaller targets.
It’s a tried and tested formula to take a huge and seemingly insurmountable task and break it into bitesized chunks. So, by breaking up the task of writing the first draft into smaller achievable aims will mean you’ll start to make progress before you know it.
What also helps is to have your targets as visual reminders. Highlight specific days on a calendar and write on each day you write what word count you met. This helps you keep track of your progress and see just how well or badly you’ve done.
Respect writing time
Our brains continuously come up with different and seemingly more important things to be doing instead of writing. There’s weeding to be done, a final showing of a film, or floors to be mopped. All worthy time-fillers, but none of them involve any writing.
To stop procrastinating you have to be able to manage your time. As well as going with the flow and writing whenever the mood strikes, you also have to schedule writing into your lifestyle. See if you can combine this with the time of day you like to write and protect that space.
By setting a definite time slot for some novel writing, you’ve made a promise to yourself to keep it. Remember the thing that is motivating you to be a writer in the first place.
Stop procrastination and write your book
If your aim is to write a book, how much does it mean to you? Why do you want to do it? What are the main things preventing you?
After you’ve asked yourself these questions, you can then seriously take on procrastination. Once you’ve nailed a routine that suits you, it will be easier than you think to reach your goal.
Remember that as well as sticking diligently to your writing schedule, it’s important to remain flexible and give yourself breaks. Stepping away for a few days or a week can help you see the story with more clarity. Plus, if you reach a tricky bit in the plot, rather than forcing a solution and not enjoying the process, take a break from it.
You know best what suits you as a writer and the main thing to remember with writing your book is if not now, when?
Tell us what tactics you use to stop procrastinating, we’d love to know!