I’m not sure what the whether is like where you are today, but here it is dark and rainy. If I didn’t have anything I needed to do today, I would welcome the gloom with open arms. There’s no better excuse to snuggle in bed all day with a good book. But in reality, on most rainy days, we all have stuff we need to do. We all have jobs we need to attend and goals we need to meet. Bad weather is just another thing to add to the ‘excuse list.’
Writers… you know what I’m talking about.
Some days we look for everything and anything to avoid picking up the pencil or sitting down at the keyboard. The ‘scaries’ become ever more prominent the closer you get to finishing your current project, book, or novel. It’s like there is some extraterrestrial force pulling you away from the very one thing you should be doing or working on. Procrastination is one of the biggest obstacles for writers. Writing is a long process that takes a lot of stamina and determination. It’s very easy to get distracted or discouraged after months of writing, especially if you feel like you aren’t getting any closer to the end product. You aren’t alone in this feeling and it’s something that everyone of us struggles with at one point in our lives (or maybe a few points). The good news? It’s a fixable problem.
The Huffington Post published an article this morning about some helpful ways to combat our unlucky procrastination. Of course, it’s easier said than done. Nothing worth having comes easy. That’s why it’s called an accomplishment. If we want to reach those accomplishments, we need to find ways to work through those hurdles. We need to find a reason to pick up that pencil on those rainy days. Here are some of the suggestions from The Huffington Post, maybe one will work for you:
- Plan a reward.
Give yourself something to look forward to. You would think the gratification of writing an awesome novel would be enough, but in most cases it’s not. It’s not something tangible and it’s in our human nature to thrive on physical gratification. Plan a treat for yourself once your book is completely ready for publication- take a mini vacation, get that yummy dessert you have been eyeing for months at your favorite restaurant, or buy yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes. You deserve it.
2. Make a list of benefits.
Take a break and make a list of all the benefits to finishing your book. You’ll get to finally publish it, which brings in book sales. You get to move on to your next big idea. You can focus on other leads for the project- such as a possible audiobook or movie deal. So many more doors open when you have a finished product. In fact, no doors are open until that finished project is in your hands.
3. Completion avoids failure.
Every new sentence puts you that much closer to actually finishing. It might sound like common sense, but think about it. Every day you don’t sit down to write another sentence, paragraph, or chapter increases your chances that you are never going to finish. And we don’t want that now, do we?
4. Ditch the perfectionism.
Having polished work is important, but you don’t want to overthink it. Once it prevents you from progressing then it has become a problem. Editing, rewriting, and revisions are good but we need to do them tastefully. As soon as you find yourself questioning how other people are going to react to a certain sentence or the tiniest of details, you have gone too far. Write the story you want to write and people will either love it or hate it.
5. Imagine the worst.
Imagine the worst thing happening to you upon completion of your book. Is it a bad review? No sales? Nasty comments? Whatever it is, picture yourself surviving it. Because guess what? You will. If that’s the thing that is holding you back from finishing, just know you will survive (and yes, the Destiny’s Child song is now permanently stuck in my head for the night).
6. Aim for your best effort.
Rather than focusing on perfection, focus on creating the best version of your book that you can. Aim to make each book of yours better than the last. Focus on growing as an author, learning from your own mistakes and triumphs. Don’t strive for someone else’s perfection because you will never get there. Become the best writer you can be and then next time, become even better.
7. Please yourself.
Make sure that once you put that last word on the page, your story is exactly how you set out for it to be. Sometimes people’s opinions and criticisms along the way change the course of our writing. Most of the time we don’t even notice it, or we think it’s the best choice at the time. At the end of the day, you need to be happy with your finished product. There’s no guarantee it’s going to sell. The only guarantee you can have is that your proud of it. And plus, if you are writing something you want to write it’s much more likely you will finish it.