"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

7 Fool-Proof Ways to Kick Procrastination in the Pants!

There are 100s of bright and talented writers whose works you will never read.

They will never motivate, move you to tears, or make a difference.
How do I know?
Because I have had the pleasure of teaching them in creative classes and workshops throughout my career.
They are Black and White, both men and women, young and old.
Some even with “rocket science” potential.

The prospect of which saddens me.
For as a friend of mine often states, we all have a piece of the puzzle of this thing called life, of which we uniquely possess. Nobody has the exact same vision or creative voice.

Yet I see it far too often.
Here’s the script: an aspiring writer will sign up for my class.
He/she will enthusiastically ask questions and pen copious notes.
They leave the session singing my praises, and swearing to put into practice the things they have learned.

Then, guess what?
They get home and reality settles in. There are everyday distractions—a demanding job, family obligations, and plaguing doubt. Not to mention, there never seems to be enough time.

Consequently, they join the ranks of the “someday” people.
You know them.
“Someday I’m gonna finish that novel.” “Someday I’ll publish my poetry.” And someday never comes.

When I follow-up with them, months later, I find that they’ve given up on their dreams, while toiling on dead end jobs. Perhaps you’re even one of them.

Given this scenario, how does one go from good intentions to great author?

Here’s how to start:

In the words of a very famous Nike commercial—“Just do it!” Start somewhere, anywhere. Pen a piece for your community newspaper or your church’s newsletter. Believe me when I say that the thrill of a byline is addictive. I’ve been writing for 15 years, and every time I go to a bookstore or supermarket and open a book or magazine with my work, I get that same original high! Still.

Get a Goal Buddy. You know how some people have work out buddies to tag along with them at the gym to stay motivated and accountable?
It works for writing as well. Perhaps it can be a friend with similar aspirations, or even someone you meet through an online bulletin board.
Remember to exercise caution in the selection process.

Establish Short and Long Term Goals. Where would you like to see yourself a month from today? A year down the line? Decide, then write it down. Studies show that people who commit their goals to writing are 3x more likely to achieve them.

Set Deadlines. A goal without a deadline is just a dream.

Stop Striving for Perfection—Instead pursue excellence. Sometimes procrastination occurs simply because of over analysis and over editing. Write it to the best of your ability, and then send it off already! It doesn’t have to be picture perfect; that’s what editors are for.

Set Priorities. Can you have it all? Most definitely. Just not all at the same time. Know that there are sacrifices to be made. For example, sometimes my writing causes me to live the life of a hermit. For you it may be fewer hours in front of the TV. Which is more important?

Know that “Discipline” is not a Dirty Word. Believe it or not, good habits are just as easy to cultivate as bad ones. Sit down to your computer or journal-- daily, weekly, or whatever works for you. But be committed and consistent. Then watch the results!


CREATIVE WRITING PROMPTS.COM--- Helps to jumpstart the creative juices through prompts and exercises.
WRITERSDIGEST.COM—--Considered the “voice of authority” on writing and related markets, did you know that they also offer 52 prompts (one per week) to help you generate creative pieces and produce more?
CREATIVITYPORTAL.COM---Provides prompts, inspiration, and excellent resources for writers.

So what are you waiting for?
To quote a popular saying, “Most people won’t regret the things they have done when their life is over. It’s the things they didn’t do that they will most regret.”
Don’t let that be you. Immortality awaits!

Writers (and other creatives), how do you deal with procrastination? Please share any tips, tools, or experiences with us.
Image: nuttakit


  1. I love the writing workout buddy suggestion! Having someone to hold you accountable and also to care about your process would be so valuable!

  2. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 23, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    Yep! You betcha! Do you have one, Wendy?

  3. Hi Jennifer!

    I don't deal with procrastination often, but it hits sometimes. When it comes to writing, my biggest thing is letting loose, releasing what comes to mind and not being overally critical!

    But you know what this does to me. It sparks the need for a break. Sometimes calling it a break is really an excuse (whispering: because it's more like procrastination)!

    The thing that works best for me, that you also mentioned is to just do it. I have to just start writing and in time, it all comes together!

    Thank you for sharing Jennier!

  4. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 23, 2011 at 5:41 PM

    Hey Jk,

    Good to hear from you again. You're right--sometimes we just have to buckle down and do it!
    Appreciate the input.

  5. This is really enlightening. For me, I am horrible at "procrastination" Especially when it comes to my writing! Thanks for posting this Jennifer! As always, it's inspired me!

  6. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 24, 2011 at 5:22 AM

    Hey Yvonne,

    Wonderful to reconnect! Where you been? :-) No doubt up to some interesting activities. Thanks for dropping by in the midst of the madness. Hope all is well. :-)Keep writing...

  7. Excellent tips. A friend and I are "goal buddies"; we are actually working on a project together too. This is a great help.

    Appreciate the tips and links. Have a great day! :)

  8. Jennifer Brown BanksMarch 24, 2011 at 6:32 AM

    This is good to learn, Karen! Keep us posted on your project and your progress. :-) Thanks for your thoughts.

  9. Very inspiring post Jennifer! You offer some great tips to kick the procrastination habit. Setting goals and taking action is what makes it happen. :)

  10. Hi Kembala,

    Welcome back!:-) Always appreciate the feedback.