I've had several hours yesterday to get stuck into writing Reckless Rebellion, the next book in my series. So what did I find myself doing? Spending hours labouring over some cosmetic changes to my webpage!
This is NOT how to get my book written, yet I'm sure we all do it. So after giving myself a stern talking to, and getting the first chapter written, I thought today was a perfect day for this post I've been working on about how to beat procrastination.
1. Identify the problem – Why are you procrastinating?
The first step is to figure out why you're procrastinating. Once you know this, the solution is sometimes obvious. Some of my most frequent reasons are:
Waiting for inspiration– Sometimes you can simply be stuck on a plot idea. The answer may come to you if you wait, often while driving, washing up, or my favourite, in the shower. But if you've been waiting for inspiration for more than 24 hours, it's time to move on. Start writing, and move past that point, even if your prose is lousy and your plot weak, you can fix it later. And the funny thing is, some of my best prose and best plot ideas have come from just making myself write through the block.
You don't know where to start- Particularly common at the start of a project, when a job seems overwhelming. Instead of doing something, you start researching how to do it, leading into all sorts of side roads. Sometimes, research helps, but if you're not finding an answer, or the answers seem more overwhelming than you already were, stop researching, and get back to writing.
The job seems too big- Funnily enough, this one doesn't usually hit me at the beginning of a novel. Then I'm buoyed up by the excitement of a new project . This one usually hits about 20-30% in, sometimes as far as 50-70%. When the excitement of the beginning has worn off, but there is still a long way to go to the end! Working in small chunks helps. Don't look at the overall project, just pick a reasonable amount to get done in a day/hour, and focus on that. Keep doing this long enough, and eventually, you'll get to the end.
2. I don't have time to really get stuck into it.
As a parent, homeschooling mum, and working from home (on a non-writing job), this one gets me a lot. I have spare time while my daughter is watching TV, playing outside, etc, but I never know how long it will be before she suddenly (and urgently) needs me. So I often find myself sitting reading mail, or checking Facebook, not willing to get stuck into anything big, in case I get interrupted. Then I kick myself half an hour later when she's still happily occupied, and I haven't achieved anything. Grab those moments, write something down, even if it's only a few sentences, it keeps your mind in the story, and those moments really add up. And on the rare occasions when a few minutes turns into an hour, you can really make some progress.
3. Open the document
When all else fails, and you're still sitting playing Jetpack joyride and you haven't written for a week, make yourself just open up the document. Tell yourself that you don't have to write anything, just actually open the document and see where you're up to. If you're anything like me, that last sentence you wrote will draw you back in, and before you know it, the words will be flowing.
Do you find yourself procrastinating when you have something you need to get done? What tips do you have for dealing with procrastination?