Dealing with Procrastination as a Writer: A Personal Experience

Today makes it 42 days I posted a new article on this blog. For the past one month, I stopped my freelance writing activities which has affected my blog updates too. I must confess it was a hell of a time, an unforgettable experience and moment of deep reflection worth sharing with you.

What happened?

Shortly before my convocation ceremony (Which came up last month), a friend invited me over to carry out a particular task that will last for some weeks. This, I agreed to reluctantly and together we carried out this task for two weeks. While this task lasted, I wrote nothing either on my blog or elsewhere. Of course, my writing career suffered a huge setback.

As if that was not enough:

Before commencing the task with my friend, my laptop’s battery got damaged so I can only use it with electricity! And immediately I finished the task, I became so reluctant to pick up my pen. I wasn’t eager anymore to type on my computer, and each day passes by and I assured myself I will write the next day.

The monster called Procrastination

Procrastination, which means postponing, or setting aside a task you ought to execute today for another day is a monster. Truly the killer of dreams and an effectual way to stop pursuing a particular cause. When you procrastinate you become so lazy, you develop a psychological apathy towards the task at hand, and most times dread ever going back to it.

Procrastination for a writer: My Personal Experience

Procrastination affects writing just like any other profession. In fact, that of a writer is more visible, more damaging and easy. During the last few weeks, procrastination made me lost my writing  voice. It made writing so difficult, and I dreaded ever putting anything down to write. My writing became so disrupted that the only consolation I put up for myself is that I will write tomorrow. In fact, I wondered if I could ever be able to write again. That is what procrastination does for a writer. It makes you lose your self-confidence, you seize to believe in yourself and abilities, and instead of been a writer you become a waiter.

Dealing with Procrastination as a Writer

Though Procrastination affected my writing career, I learnt some lessons especially on how to handle it. This is to prevent a re-occurrence and make sure that you don’t make the same mistakes as mine.

Here are 5 ways to deal with procrastination as a writer:

  • Understand the phenomenon:

    The first step to dealing with procrastination is to understand the phenomenon and how it works. Always have it in mind that it creeps into your career unknowingly, and always difficult to know that you have procrastinated. It gives you a sense of confidence that nothing will happen if you fail to write today. As a writer, when you have this feeling, you should understand that it’s nothing but procrastination and then act fast.

 

  • Make it a duty to write daily:

    This is an advice that top players in the writing industry tell fellow writers to heed. When you write daily, you achieve many things which include:

  1. You remain in a right state of mind to write (This is because writing deals with your state of mind)
  2. You remain less bothered about what to post
  3. You have a large pool of ready articles to choose.

So handle procrastination and make writing daily important. With a daily writing time table, you will have defeated it by a large percentage.

  • Make writing a top priority always:

    You cannot write daily if you don’t make the act of writing an important aspect of your life. What should always come to your mind always is writing. You think, dream and feel writing. It’s only when writing becomes a top priority that you won’t think of anything else than to write. In reality, you execute other tasks as well but practically writing remains top most in your heart. With this mind-set, you won’t see yourself procrastinating a writing task for another time or day.

 

  • Make reading a habit:

    Good writers are avid readers, and avid readers never run out of writing ideas always. To deal with procrastination, make it a habit to read always.

  • Read novels as much as you can.
  • Read about writing and its different techniques.
  • Read about the challenges faced by writers and how they overcome them.
  • Read blog posts of fellow writers, top players in the writing industry, mentors, etc.

All these and many more, ensures that you are on top of your game always. You will write as much as you can, and many more.

  • Think about your audience:

    Thinking about your audience is an effective way to handle procrastination. As a writer, your audience are the most important aspect of your career. Not only do they read what you write, they wait for it, and put them into practice. Now imagine the scenario whereby an audience that have been waiting so long for your write-up get disappointed. Devastating isn’t it? You might as well lose a sizeable number of them if this persists for long. The internet is so populated, and you need fresh contents always to stay on top of the game. As a writer, when you think about the audience, you will never procrastinate and will want to satisfy them always.

On a Final Note:

Procrastination is real, and it’s a cog in the wheel of a writer’s progress. The surprising thing is that it creeps unknowingly into a writer’s career, and if not taken care of, will cause a huge damage to it. As a writer, you should always be ready for setbacks, disappointments and so on in your career. These weigh you down and makes you want to think that procrastination is the next thing for you. But with the practical steps highlighted above, you will overcome procrastination and be in charge of your writing career. Well, I have learnt my lessons and I am back for good.

Over to You

As a writer, have you ever experienced procrastination? What are the steps you have taken to overcome it successfully? Make your submissions in the comment box.

Taking Action: The Newbie Writer’s Guide to Success

The Newbie Writer
writer’s desk

Admit it. You have always admired great writers in your field. You have read lots of blog posts, articles, and newsletters on how to get started as a writer. You have even joined some writing e-courses that take you through the nitty-gritty of writing. You’re a daily visitor to some of the popular blogging/writing websites in the world such as Copyblogger, Problogger, Smartblogger, Goinswriter, Writers in charge, Make a living writing, Grammar Girl, Seth Godin, TheWritelife and the list is endless.

You understand writing is the calling for you, you respect writers and always wish to be called one anytime, you believe that great writers produce great ideas, and ideas rule the world always.

Just as Paul Graham puts it:

Writing doesn’t just communicate ideas; it generates them, if you’re bad at writing and don’t like to do it, you will miss out on most of the ideas writing would have generated.

But, you’re held up. Not only do you procrastinate beginning your writing career, you are afraid of failure. The ideas are perfectly in your head, but you don’t know how to get started. You read that established writers make a lot of money writing, but you think you can’t withstand their expertise.

The Reality: Being in motion Vs. Taking Action

In his post, The Mistake smart people make, James Clear aptly describes it thus:

Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but the task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action on the other hand is the behaviour that will get the result.

Let’s cite some examples:

  • If I outline 30 ideas I want to write on, that’s the motion, if I actually write and publish just an article, that’s an action.
  • If I read a blog post on How to make money as a freelance writer, that’s motion, if I actually put it into practice and start making money, that’s an action
  • If I study for a test, that’s motion. If I actually take the test, that’s action

Motion is good but action is better

I love the way Leonardo da Vinci puts it:

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Motion is good because it allows you to prepare and strategise and learn as a writer, but it will never produce a final result. Yes, motion will show you the way but action will definitely take you there.

Taking action
Taking action

Are you ready to take action?

As a newbie writer, you should understand that actions matter a lot, if indeed you want to succeed. It’s the actions that the established writers are taking that stand them out from the crowd. If you wish to be successful in your writing career, I advise you to do the following:

  1. Start small: Don’t be in a hurry. Take calculated and important steps always. Simply put: begin with one task and get it completed before going to the next
  2. Reconnect with the present moment: Don’t be a hurry to make a name
  3. Focus on how instead of ifs: What if’s can really make you lose focus. So instead of letting your mind get lost in what if’s focus on the how.
  4. Put distractions away: These days, our devices are with us everywhere and it takes just a second to get distracted. So you need to be wary of that and do the needful always
  5. Utilise your time judiciously: Your time is an asset that you must guard jealously. While you shouldn’t harbour stress and tension about time, allow it to work towards your goals
  6. Get motivated: Make sure that you have some incentives to get self-motivated. The more motivated you are, the more actions you take
  7. Don’t be a perfectionist: Don’t wait to be a perfect writer before you start. Expertise is not attained one day, it’s learned on the job
  8. Don’t follow the majority: As a newbie writer, you need to figure out what makes you happy, what you can write on consistently over time, and follow it to the latter. Don’t be a copy-cat
  9. Be enthusiastic: Enthusiasm is a great emotional state to be in to take action. Be proud and happy to be called a writer, tell whoever cares to listen that you’re one.
  10. The time is now: If indeed you want to take action, there is no other time better to do that than now. Do not wait for the perfect moment, make this moment a perfect one.

On a Final Note:

John Wooden puts it this way: “Never mistake activity for achievement”. If indeed you want to be successful in your writing career, then you must begin to take actions. And I say: “Don’t wait to be an expert before you take bold steps. Start something today, learn on the job, be determined and remain consistent. Indeed, Expertise is earned over time and not a day’s job.”

What has been hindering you from kick-starting your writing career? Do comment in the box below.