I freely admit to being a ninja-level procrastinator who can think of 100 reasons not to sit down to write. When I finally get in front of a keyboard, I first check Facebook to see what my friends are doing, which leads to viewing a few YouTube videos, reading some news articles, checking my bank account balance, responding to email, putting together a song playlist for inspiration… then I realize an hour has passed. I have not written a single word and, even worse, my mind is now completely distracted.
I don’t think I am alone here, so how do we overcome the daily challenge of simply finding the time and motivation to put fingers to keyboard while balancing work, home and family with sleep and the sweet siren song of the internet?
I posed this question in a LinkedIn self-published author’s group.
Jerry X. Shea, Author / Speaker / Consultant, responded with two suggestions. The first is just to write. If writer’s block strikes, take a break from the manuscript and write something completely unrelated: send an email, write a blog post or article. This will ease the pressure and before you know it, the perfect segue or plot twist will be flowing from your fingers. For serious production, he suggests finding or creating a quiet space away from the distractions of television, radio and internet.
Jerry found his quiet place on a four month escape to Alaska, but most of us are not so fortunate in our quest for a quiet place in which to write. It is more likely that a majority of us are writing in fits and starts resulting in unfocused narratives. To prevent the dreaded meandering plot line, Danielle Fetherson, Editor / Ghostwriter / Publishing Assistant, suggests beginning with a single sentence to clearly articulate the book’s message – like a thesis statement. Use this statement to build a working outline of your plot. (I just flashed back to high school English class.) You may think that an outline is too restrictive, but she anticipates your objection, “The outline may adapt over time and I may even revise the wording of the thesis by the time the book is finished, but having that outline as a starting point can be liberating because it offers context for information and gives me a starting point to let the creativity flow.”
What about those times when the will to struggle through another paragraph has simply abandoned you. When you find yourself hopelessly staring at the screen, Jennifer Mason, Author / Flow Writer, encourages us to re-motivate ourselves by having “a conversation with a friend or client about what you do and why you do it.” Who better to remind us of our passion than we ourselves?
So, now that you have made it to the end of this paean on procrastination, go find a quiet place, review your outline and remember why you do what you do.