If you choose to be a writer, you must write.
If you’re anything like me, though, there are times when reading e-mails, Twittering, calling family or friends, or just waiting to be “in the mood” interfere with sitting down to write.
This… is called Procrastination. I find it one of the deadliest sins for a writer.
Do I procrastinate? Absolutely.
Along my writing journey, though, I’ve picked up a few tips that help keep me focused and moving forward. For blogging, something I’ve found useful is to pick a topic that particularly interests me the day before I plan to begin writing. Sometimes it comes from a Twitter I read, or a Facebook reference; something I saw on TV or the Internet… or just a thought. By the end of the day, though, I have my topic chosen, and throughout the evening I write subheads. Then, when I start my article the next morning, I decide on three to five major points.
For this article, for example, Point #1 on procrastination is how many great quotes there are about it. Here are a few: “Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.” Don Marquis
“To think too long about doing a thing becomes its undoing.” Eva Young
“If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting it off.”
And, one of my mother’s personal favorites (spoken frequently to me when I was younger) “If and When were planted and Nothing grew.” Proverb.
Point #2: Procrastination spawned an industry. Look at the number of speakers, presentations, books and authorities there are on procrastination — telling us how and WHY to overcome it. Procrastination is considered, after all, to be just another habit (unfortunately not one of our better ones)… a way of coping with the emotions and physical symptoms that accompany various elements of depression.
Driven by guilt, self-doubt, or not wanting to make a decision, procrastination can become habitual until all that we WANT to do, or to achieve, just seems overwhelming.
Point #3: When are we most likely to procrastinate? Interestingly enough, while we can procrastinate anywhere throughout a task or project, we are most likely to procrastinate as we approach a deadline for getting something done.
Point #4: How many of us are procrastinators? Based on some figures from research groups, about 95% of us know how to do this really well. About 20% of us are chronic procrastinators with serious problems as a result.
Depending on the topic… I think I fall into both groups. When it’s time to get household chores done, I generally fall into the 95% group… I know how to procrastinate really well. And…when it comes to making a dental appointment, I definitely fall into the 20% group. In this area, I am a chronic procrastinator. And I don’t really see it changing. Until, of course, I get a serious toothache!
Point #5: What’s the best way to avoid it? There is, as mentioned earlier, a lot of literature, and plenty of “experts” who suggest what to do. I like a solution mentioned by some, including a Harvard University study in 2006, that suggests reasonable and regular deadlines that are defined and recorded on a calendar. When it comes to writing, this works pretty well, even for a procrastinator like me.
Now then, I believe I’ve said enough for today, and will give myself permission to put off (procrastinate) writing about any of the other sins I consider deadly for a writer… until another time.