The following tips are from C.S. Lakin's article, 10 Tips to Help You Avoid Procrastination, over at Live, Write, Thrive.
10 Ways To Overcome Procrastination
- Make a writing schedule. Actually write it down and post it where it can stare you in the face. Let your family know you plan to follow it and ask for their support (to leave you alone so you can write). You can even ask them to nag and remind you to use that willpower.
- Write for short periods of time. So you can feel that sense of discipline and accomplishment. If you try to set aside a whole day or a big block of hours, life may encroach.
- Reward yourself when you meet your goal. Cookies! Literal or figurative. Or bake a cake. Take a bubble bath. Whatever works.
- Work somewhere that won’t be distracting! Okay, that’s a hard one. Some people find the coffee shop noise helpful background ambiance. I drive to my local library four days a week to get away from my dog. Really. He drives me nuts with the ball and Frisbee. He’s a lab. He can’t help it. So I leave.
- Get the other stuff out of the way. I can’t start work until I go through my e-mail and feel I’ve taken care of some stuff that I know will bother me if I don’t take care of it first. You know what stuff that is for you.
- Close your e-mail programs and social networks, and turn off your phone. Yes, you really won’t die if you “unplug” for an hour or three.
- Write at your best time. It’s way harder to push through to write if you’re sleepy or unfocused. I turn off my brain around 5 p.m
- Get an accountability partner. If you want to set tough goals to reach a deadline, set up someone you have to report to or send your chapters to by a specific date and time. I know of one author who agreed to pay $100 every time he was late sending his required pages to his accountability partner. Sometimes he got them sent one minute before deadline, but it was great incentive for him.
- Remind yourself you love to write. I hear from some writers how they’ve come to hate writing. If so, why bother? Write because you love it. It’s fun! Yes, it’s hard work, but so are a lot of things, like scrubbing grungy toilets and digging trenches. Personally, I think writing is a whole lot more fun to work at than a lot of other things. Writing is a privilege; a lot of people struggle each day just to find food and water to survive. Count your blessings. Change your attitude.
- Think of yourself as a writer, that this is your job. Adjust your attitude to view your writing as a profession. Be professional. Treat your writing as a business and be responsible about it, just as you would any other job you are hired to do.
I love my cats. LOVE. But, gah! They can drive me nuts at times. One is a snuggle bunny, which is terrific, but he wants to snuggle when I want to write.
Writing with a cat draped over one shoulder is not easy. Doable, but not easy.
That said, I hope he never changes.
Time Scheduling Programs
I thought I'd add something to C.S. Lakin's list: keeping track of how much you write.
Currently I'm using Hours Keeper for the iPad and it's made a world of difference. It helps me stick with the task at hand rather than going off to do other things.
I admit that it's often difficult to remember to record what I'm doing but (of course) there's an app for that.
For those who DON'T like to clock in before you do something there are programs that record your activities automatically:
Here's an article from LifeHacker: Five Best Time-Tracking Applications.
It's an older article, but the apps are still around. Good info.
If procrastination is a problem for you--it is for me--try different things. Experiment. Perhaps you'll fine a pearl of wisdom that will resonate with you, perhaps keeping track of your time will help. Perhaps the key will be something completely different.
I think that, as is true with so much in life, the key is to experiment and find what works for you.
Whatever you try, good luck and good writing!
Photo credit: "His Royal Highness King Zawadi Mungu" by Ian Sane under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.