“You know, I’ve had an idea for a story for years. I need to start working on that.”
There are many among us who have aspirations in multiple areas. No matter what the industry, progress can be halted by the most powerful weapon in our lives. Our minds.
I’ve listed a few reasons why a potential writer may procrastinate. There is no such thing as an exhaustive list on this subject. Individual writers have their own unique reasons for putting things off. I’ve tried to highlight the ones I feel are more common in the hope of breaking through the mind blocks, and encouraging those who are uncertain to start writing.
“When I get home, I’m going to sit down and just write. Wait, my favorite show comes on tonight. I’ll start tomorrow. Hmm, there’s a game on tomorrow. I’ll do it the day after that. Actually, I’ll start next month.”
You plan to start writing, you look forward to it, and suddenly, something else captures your attention and you put it off. Like a hummingbird, you flit from one thing to another, allowing your attention to be diverted.
Anticipation can morph in to procrastination at the speed of a bullet train. So how do you stop it?
“I’ll get around to writing my ideas down, after I move through the second quarter at work.”
You want to write, you’ve been thinking about it for days, months, even years, planning it out, setting up your ideas in your head, but you haven’t actually focused on the writing.
How important is the goal of writing? I’m not talking about publishing, but just the writing itself. Are you willing to set aside time to write? Are you willing to spend less time on one activity to allow more time for writing? Are there ways to combine writing with other activities?
You can accomplish your goal at anytime. You have to decide if writing is something you’ll think wistfully about after you read something moving, or if it’s something you’ll actually do. Are you actually going to make room for writing in your life?
Want a quick way to gain at least an hour of writing time? Log out of Twitter and Facebook.
“I’m not good enough.”
How do you know? Have you tried? Have you taken opportunities to broaden your horizons? Who are you comparing yourself to? Why?
Writing is a craft like any other. You hone it through practice and learning. How can you even determine your skill level if you won’t begin? Or if you’ve started something, how can you improve if you don’t practice for years at a stretch? Would Yo Yo Ma be one of the world’s greatest cellists if he only thought about picking up his instrument? If he only played it once every five years?
“I could never write something like this.”
Do you want to? Or do you want to write something similar? Writing, like most forms of artistic expression, allows room for your own unique voice to shine through. It’s one thing to admire another style, but don’t lose your voice trying to emulate another. Tell your tale your way. Write your poem through your lens.
“Why isn’t this flowing?”
Writing and editing require effort, also known as work. Sometimes the words will fly from your fingers, filling page after page. Sometimes you’ll type 50 words in five days, and on other occasions, you’ll end up reordering scenes, or excising large swaths of text.
Those last bits don’t sound like a lot of fun do they? But they’re a part of the process of writing. There will be highs and lows. Try to remember why you love writing during the low points, especially when your muse is having a massive hissy fit.
“Where is everyone?”
Writing can be extremely lonely. After all, it’s just you and your computer, or pen and paper. You’re inside your head, drawing out ideas and creating imaginary places and people.
Don’t seal yourself off from the world. Interact with other writers for support, and growth opportunities. There are thousands of online groups for writers at every level. Your town may have local writers’ clubs where you can meet with others in person as well.
Having support can help keep you focused and productive.
So the big question is, how have you been procrastinating? Now what are you going to do about it?