6 easy tips to stop procrastinating and start writing

Tracks with no train and a barren landscape - stop procrastinatingI don’t know what stop procrastinating means when it comes to reading.

I mean, I find reading not only fun but also deeply rewarding. I’m one of those people who, when enter a lift, can’t help reading for the umpteenth time the notices about maximum load capacity and safety regulations.

Stop procrastinating – easier said than done.

Writing instead is another kettle of fish. As rewarding as it can be, sometimes can also be terribly frustrating and difficult. It is therefore understandable that writers often procrastinate their writing sessions.

For sure, for me taking the plunge has always been quite hard. So much so that once upon a time I used to write only when I was inspired. But I soon realized that if I had waited for inspiration to strike, I was going to burn a dozen years just to complete the first draft of my first novel. Not the best way to start a career as a writer. Not at all.

So, I began reading books and blog posts about productivity, about how to minimize the conspicuous amount of time I usually wasted before I finally sat down at my desk and started writing.

I diligently tried out a lot of different solutions. Many seemed interesting, even extremely cool, but did next to nothing to help me. Others seemed instead too simplistic and not at all so cool, but helped me out a lot.

Nowadays, after years of refinements and experiments, I write every day, without waiting for inspiration, and my daily quota, though not as steady as I’d like it to be, ranges around 1500 words. Considering I’ve a full-time day job, I think that’s not too bad.

I therefore hope the following 6 easy tips to stop procrastinating and start writing can help you to be more productive, or at the very least to make you aware of the importance of working on you and developing good habits.

As Aristotle said, We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

1  Turn off the Internet

Let’s face it, Internet is like a black hole. Sure, in certain cases it can boost productivity. But for fiction writers plowing through their first drafts this is simply not the case. In fact, all the fact checking and whatnot can be scheduled between writing sessions.

If you’re strong willed fine, but in such a case chances are you haven’t a procrastination problem either.

Instead, if you’re more like me and tend to be lured by the virtual sirens, then you could find it useful to resort to programs like Freedom and Anti-social. If set up correctly, they can really help us to stop procrastinating.

2  Set tight deadlines

It can seem counter-intuitive. After all tight deadlines seem like a surefire recipe for anxiety and irritability. As a matter of fact, innumerable studies have instead demonstrated that they can work wonders. But only if you’re willing to track your progress and have a healthy belief in yourself.

3  Instruct your computer to launch your word processor on startup

This little trick can be unexpectedly effective. Just looking at Scrivener‘s start screen is enough for me to feel guilty, even if I haven’t done anything resembling procrastination yet. As a result, more often than not I open the directory of my recent projects and begin my writing session straight away.

4  Try to write always at the same time

Given that as this study from MIT says, our brain is a creature of habit, so offering it a constant behavioral pattern can be quite helpful in developing a new and more useful one.

5  Shut the door of your studio

In this way the people around you will know you’re busy and not supposed to be bothered unless the house is on fire. In fact, the fewer people we have around the fewer the opportunities for us to postpone what we should be doing.

6  Beware of windows

Working in front of a large window overlooking a lovely landscape can be great. But it’s also damn distracting. In fact, as a rule when you write you should keep away from any window. There’s no telling the things one can look at intently through a window–the things one can discover. But they have nothing to do with writing, do they?

A last word

It’s undeniable that to improve, writers, like everyone else, have to put in a certain amount of serious effort. But I’m not an advocate of the no pain no gain motto. As a result, I hope this list can help you to more profitably focus your attention only on the areas you really need to work on.

The way I see it, stop procrastinating should be more than anything else about substituting such a detrimental behavior with a way more productive activity.


Photo by Larisa-K