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How to Stop Procrastinating When Writing a Book

Updated on June 24, 2019
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Evie Sparkes is a published novelist, content writer and company director from the UK.

Why Do Writers Procrastinate So Much?

That's a question isn't it? It's a thing you know? Yep, most writers have the same affliction. They can't get putting it down in back and white, even though it's all there in their heads and good to go.

I have suffered (and still do to an extent) with procrastination. However, Wishful Thinking was literally written in about four weeks and published not long after. It was a bizarre experience for me and I barely remember writing it. I wish that I could find that magic again.

I've written manuscripts in the past and knowing full well how a chapter would end, I have still closed the book so to speak, and favoured coming back to finish it another time. It's infuriating to the max and I have no idea why we writers do it.

Is it something in the creative mind of a writer? Are we pre-disposed to procrastination? That's how I feel about it. The thing is, I know that we are all in control of everything that we do. We can stop procrastinating at any minute but we choose not to. We choose to put ourselves through the agony of 'doing it some other time'

Unfortunately I have passed this gene onto my son who is also a talented writer and creative video creator. We'll talk about what he is going to do on his latest project and he is giddy with enthusiasm. 'Go on then' I say. 'Not today' he'll reply. He'll find a hundred other less productive things to do instead and insist that it's crucial he attends to those first.

I've come to think of procrastination as a disease of some kind. Yes that's it. We can't help it, it's not our fault. It's not like we don't wake up with good intentions. We just lose them in all of the other more boring stuff.

Maybe We're Scared of Failure

I think that's a fair point. When we have a complete manuscript that's it. We have to give it over the the general public for review. What if they think it's rubbish? What if it turns out we can't write at all? We are deluded like the X factor contestants with that tone deaf disease.

While we are daydreaming about our success and thinking up exciting new plots it's thrilling. But when it's an actual reality, it's scary as hell. We have to get it out there, find a designer, maybe an editor, publish it, choose all of the right key-phrases so that the right people find it and love it. God, it all sounds a bit of a headache. That's not creative and we ARE. Who wants to deal with reality and get all professional and real writery?

I know someone who just can't get past the first chapter. He's stuck and he's becoming incredibly frustrated with himself. The more he fights with himself the worse it gets. He has all of the ideas and all of the smarts to get it right. Only he doesn't because he's in destructive mode.

I Found A Solution to Procrastination

Really I have. I use it in every aspect of my life and it works...for the most part. Sure, I still get days where I can't be arsed to even put it into practise. Most times however, I give myself the nudge to do so and I get stuff done.

What I Do To Stop Putting It Off

I simply tell myself that I only have to do it for five minutes. I tell myself that if that's all that I manage then so be it. This allows me to do something at least. I'm giving myself permission to stop after five minutes. Only guess what? I don't. It's all in the doing. Once you start, the creative flow goes into over-drive and you could easily do a couple of hours in one shot.

When I don't want to work out, I tell myself just five minutes that's all. The same thing happens. Sometimes I only do five minutes and that's fine too. I've done something and something is way better than nothing. You'll feel as if you've achieved something, even if it's only a page of writing. It's a page more than you had when you woke up that morning.

Give Yourself a Treat

I eat cake or make myself a special coffee safe in the knowledge that I am on the way to completing my new novel.

My latest book Finding Remarkable is a non-fiction book and I've finished it! I should have finished it last month but hey, who's counting. Not me. Now I want to design my own cover this time. I have no idea where to start so I'm putting it off. No five minutes is going to cut it here I said to myself last week. So I've done nothing. Writing this is reminding me that the five minute rule can apply to literally anything. So in a minute I am going to watch an In Design tutorial. It's a start.


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