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Stop Procrastinating! Start Writing!
Procrastination is probably one of a writer’s worst enemies; if not the worst enemy.
I have been writing online for almost a year now and I can honestly say there are three things that get in the way of my writing: a lousy mood, a demanding client (from my full-time job), and plain laziness a.k.a. procrastination. Luckily, for the first one, I’m a person who quickly bounces back from such a mood. I just give it an hour or so then I’m back to writing articles or hubs or reports or blogs again.
For the second one, well, this can’t be avoided. I mean it’s my day job and until I go full-time in online writing, I just have to contend with my main bread-and-butter.
But the third, on procrastination, now this is tricky. I actually consider procrastination my worst enemy! And I know for sure lots of writers out there suffer from the same malady. Procrastination can do a lot of things (negative ones) to one’s writing career. Actually, it can do bad things to any career but it can be pretty devastating to a writer. Think I’m exaggerating? Let me just go into some examples why procrastinating can be bad for an online writing career.
- You Missed Your Chance. You saw a project that you are interested in and want to bid for. You already have a killer proposal that you know is guaranteed to get you that job. But you procrastinate and did not send it. Or, you saw the project, you want to bid for it but you defer bidding until the last minute and by that time, it’s already too late. The client awarded the job to someone else. Sounds familiar?
- You Missed Your Deadline. You got the order or project. Hurray for you! You take note of the deadline, the date and time when you will be required to submit your work. But you keep on hemming and hawing when it comes to writing the required article. Until finally, you just missed your deadline! Okay, you can always say “but I can still ask for an extension!” That’s good but how many times will you be given an extension? I used to do that, ask for a 24-hour or 48-hour extension, but I made it a point not to because I know I’ll encounter somebody who will not be so willing to give me that extension. Plus the online writing site where I am now has a feedback system and what do you know? The first comment they will give to you is that you are not prompt in submitting your work and keep on asking for an extension. Not a good comment, not good at all.
- You End Up Cramming. Okay, you didn’t extend the deadline. But you still procrastinate and your procrastination led you to cram the whole night just to finish the article for submission tomorrow. And this is sooooo applicable to me. I sometimes end up working the whole day just to finish a 4-page article that I need to submit after 24 hours, which will lead me to my next example.
- You Produce Crappy Work. This may not exactly be applicable to a crammer who is an excellent writer; he or she can turn up an exceptional work even after cramming for it. But for us lesser mortals, this can really be a realistic effect of procrastinating and then, cramming. If you cram, you’ll have less time to produce your work. By the time you finish the draft, you’ll be very cross-eyed and very tired from all that thinking and typing, you’ll not be in any position to proofread and edit your work. Good if you have a proofreader or an editor to help you, but if you’re all alone, good luck to you!
- Your Work Starts to Pile Up. Now this I’ve experienced in more than one instance in the past. I bid for jobs with deadlines a few days apart. Have enough time to finish them all (on time)? I sure did. But did I finish them all on time? Good question. Good thing if no urgent matters crop up. But if there’s an emergency? Bad luck. You procrastinate, your work will just pile up and then you cram and then you produce the crappy work, not to mention that you will miss your deadline (causing you to cram again). It’s a vicious cycle.
- You Procrastinate More. Once you start procrastinating, chances are you’ll lose your motivation to continue with the work (because you know that there are more things that you must do afterwards). Your work becomes unpleasant the more you put it (a.k.a. procrastinate) off. And because you lose interest on your work, you procrastinate more.
Conquer Your Procrastination! Act Now!
So how do you deal with procrastination? Here are just some of the ways that you can conquer procrastination:
- Stay Motivated. Think about why you’re doing this in the first place. What is really your motivation? If it (online writing) doesn’t work, do you still want to return to that 9-to-5 job that you once had? Believe me, just thinking about going back to full-time work will get your creative juices flowing and stop your procrastination.
- Set Your Goals. And stick to them. Write down those goals, write down your schedules then stick them all up somewhere where you can easily see and refer to them. Nothing beats procrastination than seeing in black and white what you want to achieve and what you need to do to achieve them.
- Break It Down. If you have a big job to do then break it down to small manageable tasks. This will stop you from getting overwhelmed from all those things you have to do. If you’re not overwhelmed, you stop procrastinating. When you start achieving your small tasks, you become more enthusiastic to finish the rest. Before you know it, you finished the whole job!
- Relax. Breathe. Drop the anxiety and just sit back and relax. Or walk around. Or call a friend for some chitchat. Or better yet, go out with them for coffee or a short dinner. Sure this will eat up on your time but, rather than spending your time procrastinating and basically achieving nothing, maybe some time out will get you motivated again to do your work. At the least, you’ll have somebody whom you can talk to just to relieve the tension you are feeling.
- Know Yourself. Know your limitations as well. When do you do your best work? Is it in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening or early in the morning? Don’t force yourself to work when you know you will not be able to achieve anything at all during this time. If you do your best work in the evening, plan for it so that there will be no distractions and you can just do things your own way.
- Get Off the Forums. And pace yourself. I don’t mean just the Hubpages forums. I mean all kinds of forums on the Internet. I know, I know, they’re great for networking, creating backlinks for your hubs or blogs, getting you more clients, etc., etc. But there’s such a thing as too much forum-ing because such leads to procrastination. It’s okay for you to go into them but if you know you have something to do or to finish, get off them and get off them now!
Well, I do hope that this hub helps a writer stop procrastinating and start writing. Believe me when I say I’m a procrastinator, and a crammer and a last-minute writer, but I’m learning to conquer these slowly but surely. Because in the end, a person is just his or her own worst enemy and procrastinating can certainly slow down one’s success, whether in online writing, offline writing or whatever career he or she has out there. So, what’s the battle cry again? Stop Procrastinating! Start writing! Good luck.
But there is a way to beat them,
And I will tell you how:
If you have a task or duty.
Do it well, and do it now.
I just found this wonderful little poem from my book "Quiet Moments with God (for Mothers)". The source is unknown but this poem seems to sum it all:
"How and When"
We are often greatly bothered
By two fussy little men,
Who sometimes block our pathway
Their names are How an When.
If we have a task or duty
Which we can put off a while,
And we do not go and do it
You should see those two rogues smile!