Stop Procrastinating Now
This is a follow-up post to our popular article: How to Stop Procrastinating and Just Write
There are times when you’re hot about a story, and you want to pour it out onto the paper, but something comes up. You need to change your oil. The laundry needs to be done. Your favorite TV show is on in five minutes. You need to check your email or Facebook one more time.
Many people want to write more, but for whatever reason they don’t. What follows are some things that work for me. I understand they may not work for everyone, but I’ve found they helped me stop putting off my writing and got me on a regular schedule.
1. Have a Goal
You may be hesitating because you haven’t decided where you want to go. Having an idea of where your story is going is important. Take a few moments to think about what you want to accomplish in your writing and have a plan!
When setting up your goals, keep the acronym SMART in mind. SMART goals fit the following criteria:
- Specific – have a specific target. This could be a number of pages, a plot point, or something else that keeps you on track.
- Measurable – working toward your goal will result in something concrete. Measure in word count, pages, plot points…whatever works for you.
- Achievable – your goal is realistic. A good goal should challenge you a bit while being within reach.
- Relevant –remember the bigger picture. Your goals should line up with a bigger objective you want to reach.
- Time-bound – set a deadline for yourself. Look at a calendar, estimate where you could be in a set time frame, pick a date and write it down!
2. Don’t be perfect.
Perfection can be paralyzing. In order to succeed, your work needs to be the best you can possibly make it. This can be a stumbling block when you’re first getting started. I used to do this myself – I was afraid to put something on paper because it wouldn’t be perfect. I got past that. You need to get past that. Sometimes a first draft will be very good, sometimes it’ll be very bad. The important thing is get the draft out.
Early on, don’t waste your time or energy chasing perfection. Focus on an excellent draft – the best you can do. Understand there will be the occasional typo, character inconsistency, or klunky plot point. You can fix those later. Just get it out. The first draft should come from your heart; you should revise from your head.
There’s a reason people say writing is about rewriting.
3. Break it up.
Getting started is the hardest part, but once you get started you’ve got to find something that’ll keep you going. Otherwise you’ll never finish.
I’ve found breaking the project into smaller pieces, with little rewards along the way, works well for me. Once I get through 30 pages of script, I go buy myself a coffee at my favorite coffee shop. When I get to 60 pages, I buy myself lunch. When I finish the script, I buy a CD.
You may have to adapt these based on what motivates you, but you get the idea. Having something to look forward to while you’re working on the project, with a bigger payoff at the end can go a long way toward keeping you motivated. That motivation will get you going and keep you going.
The good news is writing is like exercising – the more you do it, the easier it gets, and the more you actually crave the activity when you don’t do it. It takes about six weeks for a new habit to form. Stick with it, and soon you’ll find yourself doing more writing.
Tim Morgan is a New Hampshire based writer,independent filmmaker, and author of the self-published zombie novel THE TRIP. When he’s not writing, Tim earns a living as a web developer. You can find out more about Tim, what he’s up to, and what he’s done, at his web site: www.timmorgan.us