The Procrastination Trap: How To Overcome It As A Writer

The Procrastination Trap: How to Overcome it as a Writer

N.B.- A writer may procrastinate for thousands of reasons; in this article, I’ll talk about procrastination caused by Digital Addiction (i.e., Bingewatching, Gaming, and other forms).  

In the next five minutes, I’m going to tell you a secret that will change your life as a writer. You’ll start to see your perception is drastically changing, making you more passionate, creative, and more dedicated than ever. You have been putting off works, pushing deadlines, rescheduling client meetings because you feel something is off, something isn’t functioning correctly. 

And you’re right about it. But don’t worry, because the secret I’m going to share with you has the solution to it all. You’ll find yourself glued to the keyboard, nailing pages after pages of masterpiece work. All you need is the secret formula for success.

The two paragraphs you read above are nothing but lies. It’s a fantasy of yours that you wish for every day. This video explores such online traps, it may help you in future, if you ever find yourself where you’re being fooled.

Writing isn’t easy; it’s not for everyone. It’s as complex as a matter of law or science or filmmaking. Yeah, sure, you can put down a few hundred words a day, but that doesn’t even make you a amateur writer, let alone a professional one.

There’s no secret formula to success; there never was. There’s only one boring old formula, work your ass off! The person who brags about a secret formula is bluffing; they’re don’t want you to succeed, they want your money.

And yeah, remember those buzz words, “… putting off works, pushing deadlines, rescheduling client meetings…” blah blah blah, this thing has a name- PROCRASTINATION.

Photo: Shutter Stock

How does a Writer Procrastinate? 

Honestly, it sucks. Every day you plan for a new start, but after a few hours- you find yourself on the couch bingewatching Netfilx or playing video games.

I won’t lie; I have often fallen prey to this temptation. Delayed submission, ghosted clients, said all kinds of shits to myself just to justify my behaviors.

Working ethics- Zero. Productivity at its rock bottom. And now you realize it’s costing you your career, goals and if it’s gone worse, like in my case, your bank balance. 

Many writers get terrified when they find themselves in such a crisis; and given its magnanimity, I don’t blame them. But the good thing is, you’ve realized it after all. 

Once you have spotted the problem, you’re one step closer to recover, or rebounce.

How to Fight Procrastination in Your Writing Career?

Fighting procrastination is no joke; I’ve always compared it to something like drug addiction. 

Procrastination can come in several forms; in my case, it was web series/T.V. shows. But it doesn’t stop there, I have seen successful writers playing FIFA for 18 hours straight, and they don’t know how to stop.

The worse your addiction is, the harder it’s to get back on track. But I have a few ways that can help.

Dopamine Detox

It’s the most effective and long term solution to procrastination I have ever seen. The mechanism is simple.

Your brain releases dopamine when it likes something. And once the dopamine starts flowing, the activity becomes more and more enjoyable. So, at one point, we become so engaged with that thing, the surrounding world fades out, along with the works, schedules, and stuff.

But what if you could make your brain release dopamine while you’re doing real-hard work. In this way, the work becomes less stressful and more enjoyable. You’re working and having fun simultaneously, instead of finding an excuse to leave.

#Step-1

Put away your addiction for 24 hours. You read it right. For 24 hours, you’re not using social media/ watching tv-series/ playing video games, whatever that takes away your time. 

#Step-2

Start thinking about your goals, dreams, life plans. Maybe you’ve some problems in your life from which you need an escape. I’ve always tried to run away from issues in my life, but it has only gotten worse. 

#Step-3

So I would suggest you to stop running and analyze the problem. Then write it down, or record your thoughts on your current situation. You don’t have to work that day if you don’t want to. Give that whole 24 hours to yourself.

#Step-4

Go out, spend some time with yourself. The next day, start working and challenge yourself to finish the work first, and then as a reward, watch Netflix (or whatever).

#Step-5

On the third day, isolate yourself again. Today, you work on your current articles, your future book and revise your write-ups that your client has sent for some edits. After you finish working, do whatever you want but don’t go back to your addiction for that whole day. 

Continue this cycle for 7 days, and write down your thoughts and experience. Then compare that with the first day.

In this whole process, your brain should stop craving that addiction and function in a new system. 

Photo: Wrike.com

Schedule Your Work

A plan is what, a schedule is when. It takes both a plan and a schedule to get things done.

You know you’ve delayed the work, be it for whatever reason. The best possible action to counter this issue is, I think, by stepping forward and start working. I’m sure you wish to use everyday according to your plans, I do it too.

But the problem with plans is, sometimes, they don’t come with a sense of urgency. So let’s make a schedule and try to write atleast a few words without getting distracted. 

Put aside 4 hours of your day, and write separate it in 3 sittings (2+1+1 works the best). If you aren’t a full-time writer yet, make it 3, divided into 2 sittings, each of 1.5 hours duration. 

I don’t prefer writing when I’m tired or had a long day. That’s why it works best for me in the morning and the early evenings. I’m sure you’ve your time, so work on that and start from tomorrow.

You’ll sit through the whole thing and work on your projects. Write recurring works, plan on next ventures, and build a marketing strategy to promote yourself and your writing. It’s always important to put yourself in front of the wheels and do your biddings. 

Continue this for 7 days, and then you’ve to increase the number of hours (or atleast minutes) accordingly. Although, if you’re doing a job that only spares you so much time, try to do the researches outside of your writing hours; it’ll both be productive and time-saving. 

Comment down below to let me know if you’re up for this. Once you go through the process, I’ll explain the next step.

Photo: Vantage Circle

Build a Reward System

A reward system has proven to be very fruitful in several cases of procrastination. 

But to be honest, in our case, I don’t think it’s the best choice. I’ll come to that in a minute explaining why.

As the name suggests, a reward system is a practice of giving yourself rewards upon completing a job. To put it simply, you planned to mow the lawn, and you did it on time, yay! Here’s a cookie.

Many writers, and other people, like to greet themselves to finish small jobs, like writing 200 words in 10 minutes or editing 20 pages in one single day. Rewarding yourself boosts your confidence and motivates you for the next work.

If you like the sound of it, go make a plan. Think of a small yet cheerful reward, like your favorite cooky, a book on the weekend, two episodes of your favorite show after launch. But you’ve to be mentally strong so that you might not devour the box of cookies or bingewatch a whole season of The Big Bang Theory.

I didn’t fit into the method, and I’m afraid many of you would face a hard time as well. The reason is, it works perfectly fine if procrastination isn’t an effect of addiction. But if it is, there’s no bigger reward than the addiction itself.

If you could control your addiction, why would you ever procrastinate! And this method fails here. 

There’s no harm in trying it out though, if you do, please share your story with us.

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In The End

To realize that you have lost control over yourself is a painful experience. It takes courage to acknowledge the truth and prepare to fight back. What I wrote above is from my knowledge and understanding, but that’s certainly not all.

I hope my words will work as a stepping stone and lead you to a much greater journey. Share this with people you know who’re going through the same problem. As always, let me know your thoughts and experience, and please correct my mistakes.  

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