procrastination in writing

Procrastination: Every Writer’s Struggle and How to Liberate Yourself from It

Are you a writer who does not write?

Most writers are unequivocally a well-versed procrastinator. It is a notorious occupational hazard that hampers us from sitting down in front of our computer as every fictional character and idea we have created begs for our time and attention. And while we are well-aware of their nagging demand, we continue to ignore the need to get down to work. Instead we stalk people on Facebook, relentlessly scrolling through every post while switching to Twitter to read as much updates as possible. Not to mention the superfluous viral videos that are so irresistible to put off for later. By the time, we have done all these, the day is over and we are left at the companion of our still blank space and a blinking cursor.

We have failed yet again to fight distractions.

Are you an active or a passive procrastinator?

Frank Partnoy, a professor from the University of San Diego and author of the book Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, reasoned that procrastination is a good thing as long as you are an active procrastinator who delays other tasks in order to accommodate the important ones. This means that staring at your wall all day is a bad thing and should therefore be avoided.

Never has the debate on whether procrastination is good or bad more pressing than the present time. Regardless of the argument, here are ways on how we can defeat the seductive power of delaying writing and to keep our words flowing.

#1 Francesco Cirillo’s The Pomodoro Technique

Pomodoro which means tomato in Italian is derived from Cirillo’s tomato-shaped kitchen timer, a device he used when he was still a university student.

The Pomodoro technique is a popular anti-procrastination technique particularly for entrepreneurs, writers, and other task-oriented professionals. The process is simple.

First, decide what writing task you want to accomplish. Once this has been established, you can set the pomodoro timer to a specific number of minutes, traditionally 25 but you can alter it depending on what suits you best. Then start writing and work on it until your set timer rings and stops, after which, you can take a short 5-minute break and follow the same steps for another interval. Reward yourself with longer breaks after every 4 sets of pomodoro.

#2 If you aim to be a legendary copywriter, Eugene Schwartz’ 33:33 formula is a tried-and-tested time management trick.

Bounce from the crippling effect of procrastination and trace the footsteps of Schwartz by incorporating his chunk time strategy in your everyday life. This earned him a title as the highest paid copywriter of his time. While this position dictates a lot of work, here is something you can start with.

Set your timer to 33 minutes and 33 seconds. During this time, you can choose to drink your coffee while sitting in front of your computer, stare at the wall and do nothing, daydream, think or start writing, but never get off your chair or even wander inside your room.

Gene’s success in the field of copywriting is a strong testimonial to this systematic approach. So go ahead and test it

#3 Build consistency of work through the Seinfield Strategy.

One of the most unbeatable comedians of all time, Jerry Seinfield, had once provided his valuable advice to the budding comedian Brad Isaac. In an article published on LifeHacker, Isaac shared what could be one of the inspiring motivational techniques in writing.

“…the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day…

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing; I get to put a big red X over that day.

“After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.”

-Seinfield to Isaac

Procrastination has always been part of every writer’s struggle. In fact, even famous novelists such as Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette and Victor Hugo were guilty of this practice. The former procrastinated by plucking fleas from his French bulldog until inspiration found its way to her, while the latter resorted to locking himself up in his room while wearing nothing but a toe-length knitted shawl which helped him meet his looming deadline.

As odd as it sounds, the key is to try and improvise various techniques until we discover the most appropriate approach that will save us from professional peril. Procrastination is incurable but we can always choose to win over it.

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