The fear of failure and judgement lurks behind many a procrastinated writing session. So if you find that you procrastinate when it’s time to write, check out this video from career advisor, Ramit Sethi.
Here, Sethi covers three ways to overcome procrastination. He uses examples from career networking because that’s his expertise. But his tips are actually perfect for writers who procrastinate too.
Here’s what Sethi says about procrastination and how it relates to writers.
3 Ways Writers Can Overcome Writing Procrastination
#1 The Words We Use To Describe Ourselves Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies, So Use The Right Ones
Instead of saying “I’m an aspiring writer” try “I’m a writer.”
Yes, you’re entitled to claim the title. Because if you care enough about writing to read this article or work at these challenges, you’re a born writer. Why else would you care?
And claiming your writer title makes room for you to prioritize writing.
#2 Be Honest about Your Priorities Instead of Blaming How Much Time You Have
Am I skilled enough? Talented enough? Will the words come? This and worse flies through your mind when it’s time to write. And pretty soon you think, forget it. I’ll write later. When I have more time to stress about it.
It isn’t long before that tub-scrubbing session you put off starts sounding like a good idea. And that’s when it’s all too easy to say, look at all this stuff I have to do! I don’t have time to write!
Okay, hold on there turbo. As Sethi says in the video, we use time as an excuse when we’re really just freaked out. So talk about your priorities instead. This helps to reframe the way you think about writing.
Besides, the second that “writing isn’t a priority right now” comes out of your mouth, you’ll know whether it’s true or not. And that makes overcoming anxieties about it almost easy.
#3 Break Your Writing Goals into Baby Steps
The common advice is to write at least 1000 words daily. But for many a perfectionist writer, goals this big kill us before we even start. Because we forget that goals are the upward limit—or at least an average—instead of the minimum.
What does that mean for you?
Regular non-perfectionists see this goal to write 1000 words and they think about it as an average. If they write 750 words one day and 1250 another, they’ve met their 1000 words daily goal. And they’re happy. Even when they don’t quite reach the goal, they’re happy they tried.
This is the mindset you want to cultivate.
A perfectionist sees this 1000 words daily goal and thinks: Can I reach 1000 words today? Probably not. So I won’t even try.
Sound familiar? Pretty soon you’ve gone five days in a row without writing, and it’s almost impossible to jump start that machine again.
And guess which of these writers is closer to getting published? Yep, the one who wrote whatever she could on whatever day she could write it.
Now, you’re probably thinking that a smaller goal isn’t good enough. I know this because you’re talking to a perfectionist. So anytime you’re not sure how to start. Or just how many words per day are good enough, try this seriously powerful writing technique that got me back to writing when perfectionism and anxiety had won too many days in a row.
Again, Thank You! For keeping it real. For reaching out to those of struggling to believe in ourselves and struggling to become writers. I especially love the first point: Claim yourself as a writer, not an aspiring writer. Lately I’ve been going back and forth on this point, calling myself an ‘aspiring’ writer. This blog has helped me realize that just by titling myself as aspiring, it’s keeping me down 🙁 Each day I’ve been trying to picture myself in the role, acting if you will. Fake it until you make it, right?
Mandy Wallace says
You don’t have to fake it, Liz. You are a writer. I can tell because you’re here. Only a writer would bother with the struggle of learning how to write well.
The only thing left to do is accept it 😉
Making writing a priority is definitely something I need to think about. I keep saying I want to finish my wip, so maybe it’s time to put that project first! I like all three of these tips.
Mandy Wallace says
Sometimes it’s tough to organize our time enough to make room for our creative projects. But it’s definitely worth it. Best wishes on that WIP.
Thanks. Your post really inspire me to write again after a very long hiatus. I was being too perfectionist until i can’t write even just a word. Every bits of it should be right and perfect, but now i learnt my lesson. Thank you very much.
Mandy Wallace says
That’s awesome, Cheere!