Beating Procrastination and Increasing Productivity

 Procrastination by definition is the act of avoiding an action or activity. It can creep in when you least expect it taking up valuable writing and marketing time. Spring is one of the worst times for me when procrastination hits full force. After all, there are windows to clean, yard work to do, Easter to plan, sunshine to enjoy and the list goes on. There will always be "things that need doing" or "places to go" but what about the writing time? And marketing and promoting is one of those activities that I definitely procrastinate at. So how to beat procrastination and increase productivity while still enjoying time to do other things becomes a life skill necessary for writers to master?

Schedule writing and marketing activities first. That may sound easy but I am sure you will agree that it is anything but. The act of putting writing/marketing time on the daily calendar is the first step but it takes discipline to stick to the plan. Although the calendar is not written in stone, it helps to make it a practice to follow a schedule. That being said, avoid over scheduling. Making an unreasonable plan of action will lead to more procrastination and a backlog of work.

Set Goals. Setting goals has been a lesson for writers in every genre. While authors may disagree about outlines versus story arcs, character sketches versus writing free form, or the importance of theme versus plot most agree that setting goals for a successful writing career is invaluable. The key is to  make them attainable and to revisit them often to test your progress.

Rest. Students get a spring break to rest, take a break, and to rejuvenate for the remainder of the school year. It is usually a rest period from sports practices, testing, and homework. Writers need the same kind of break. Schedule not only a rest period for the story or article you have written so you have a clear eye to revise, but schedule a rest from writing altogether. It may be only a day or even a few hours but take time to get clear away from the act of writing and marketing and enjoy something different. Here is where you can do that gardening, window washing, or shopping with the grand kids. Take advantage of rest periods and notice how fresh your work looks when you get back to it.

Look honestly at the activities which cause more procrastination than others. Usually those are the types of things that you don't like to do or that make you uncomfortable. For me, it is definitely the marketing or promoting myself. For others it might be the business side of writing, tax and record keeping, or even the research. Schedule those activities that you don't enjoy but are necessary first. Get them over with so you can move on to the writing and creating, the one activity all of us love to do.

Scheduling the tasks in a manageable order and allowing reasonable increments of time to accomplish each item will help beat procrastination and increase productivity. Target each task towards a specific writing goal and those action steps will lead to success.

Happy writing and Happy Spring!


Kathleen Moulton said...

Terry, your article encouraged me - thanks! I liked what you said about authors disagreeing. I tend to get stuck with "am I doing it right?", so I procrastinate. There are many ways to do something but setting goals each day, week, etc. will at least keep me moving.

Heidiwriter said...

Oh boy--this hits the "Queen of the Procrastinators" right where she lives! There are ALWAYS so many things to do instead of writing... Thanks for the nudge!

Karen Cioffi said...

Terri, this will hit home with lots of us writers. I usually don't procrastinate, unless I feel overwhelmed with too much to do. Then, even if I write it won't be focused or productive. Thanks for the helpful tips.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Terri, great advice on procrastinating. I especially thing scheduling your time is key even if it is only 20 minutes a session.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

This is so useful Terri. I've been sharing it everywhere.

Tips for Creating Subplots in Middle Grade Novels

by Suzanne Lieurance   If you’re writing a middle grade novel, you want to include at least one or two subplots. Subplots in fiction are sec...