How Can Writers Overcome Procrastination?

Overcoming Procrastination

According to a study by Darius Foroux, 88% of people in the workplace spend at least an hour a day in procrastination. These figures probably apply to writers as well, especially if they work from home. 

Just think! If that is true of you, that would mean if you overcome this habit you would gain an hour a day.  Read on and see how many of these apply to you, and how you can overcome procrastination.

As you read through these, do a mental tally. Then work out how much time it takes for you to achieve all these things. Then you know exactly how to go about gaining all that time back and plough it into your writing.

You might want to figure out why you are procrastinating. Maybe you’re burned out or overwhelmed. Perhaps you have writers’ block.

On Your Marks to Overcome Procrastination

Preparation is the key to doing any job well. We all know that is true. Writing is no exception.

But there comes a time when we need to move on from preparation and start writing. Here are several traps where we need to take control.


Do you spend time dreaming of all the time you have, especially at the beginning of a year? You have just received 365 new days. You pull out your calendar and imagine all that you can do.

Perhaps you set goals. That’s good. But be realistic in your goal setting.

Goals should be actionable, and achievable. Otherwise, you will only become discouraged. That will lead to further procrastination.

Controlling Emails

Emails can be a catch 22 situation. You don’t check them because they waste your time, and you’re almost bound to miss an important message or deadline. On the other hand, they can eat up hours of your time.

Set a time when you will read and answer emails. Make use of rule-setting in your mail program. Have urgent emails, such as material from your critique partner, going into a separate folder so you spot it immediately.

Perfect the art of skimming through your inbox, with your index finger on the delete button. You can probably afford to delete most of your mail. Hint! See that your delete or trash box keeps posts for a few days before emptying. Just in case …

Visiting Social Media

It’s important to keep in touch with your friends and followers. We need to be able to promote our work, and encourage others. But allow a specific number of minutes, then stick to the limit.

Set your watch or download software that will help you. You can grow a tree with Forest App for example. When the tree is grown, your time on Facebook or other Social Media is up.

House Keeping

Decide at the beginning of the week what day you will go to the shops. Or when you will spend tidying. Don’t do it on the whim, or you will find yourself doing shopping when you should be writing.

Morning Schedule

Don’t allow yourself to get into the habit of writing in your jammies! That suggests your writing is a relaxing hobby. Get showered, dressed, put on makeup, and generally get ready to work.

Schedule when you will tackle the extra tasks, like washing your hair or painting your nails. Those can be done in the evenings, or at the weekend.

Time For Reading

Reading other authors articles is of extreme benefit. But not when you’re meant to be writing!

Decide when you’re going to do this. Perhaps set an afternoon a week. Or one or two hours every second day.

This would be another good time to make use of your time-tracker. See Pomodoro for another excellent way to control your time.

Get Set and Overcome Procrastination

Now it’s time to get your hands on the keyboard and get to work. As you do, a little voice is likely to pop up with suggestions. This is your built-in editor.

The Inbuilt Editor

Ignore his suggestions that you shouldn’t rush ahead. He will point out the dangers of criticism you may receive, or that you may get bad reviews.

The time will come when you will need your editor. But it’s not when you’re trying to write! Send him packing!

Body Nourishment

Of course, it’s important to nourish your body, but that doesn’t mean junk food. Plan your meals for the day the night before, so you don’t need to waste time on meal planning. Put some fruit within easy reach for those need-to-snack moments.

You also need to keep hydrated. Keep a jug of fresh water to hand. When it’s finished, take a break.

Get out of your seat and walk to the fridge. Visit the bathroom. Do some stretches before you sit down once more.

Limit your tea and coffee. Caffeine is a great stimulant, but it can be harmful if taken to extremes. And say a definite no to alcohol when you’re writing.

Go And Overcome Procrastination

Just a couple more suggestions that will help you to concentrate.

Programmes To Help

For example, Scrivener has an option to switch to “full-screen, with only your writing surface in front of you. So has WordPress if you use this to build your blog or website.

Cold Turkey has a free option that provides features to block an unlimited number of websites. It also has a timer to keep you offline until the time you select.

Internet Connection

It is so easy to keep that alive so you can research or check your facts. If you’re able to do that, all power to you. Most often, it will cause a distraction as you move from link to link.

Background Music

Many writers find music is a boost to their creativity. Classical music is recommended as the best option. And for some reason, Mozart is purported to encourage creativity.

The temptation is to make your writing fun, and select songs you can sing along with. This is not a good plan. That divides your concentration.

The Perfect Image

This always seems to take longer than we anticipate. Yet graphics are an important part of any article. Schedule a time when you will search for images.

Where possible, look for several you will be able to use over the next few days. Or save your writing pieces until you have several needing illustrations, and schedule one big search.

Change of Topics

If you’re battling with your current topic, try venting via your keyboard. Brainstorm what you’d like to say. If neither of these help, take a break.

Switch to another topic, blog post, newsletter . . . That’s the beauty of writing. You don’t have to stick to one topic.

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Final Thoughts On Procrastination

If you want to be a writer, you have to write. That is the only way you will ever have a post to publish on your blog. It is the only way you will see your name on the cover of a book.

If you go back through this list, you will see not one of the ideas is a bad thing, but they keep us from our writing. Choose your priority (just maybe it’s to write!) and then remember . . . 

Overcoming procrastination

Now to Overcome Procrastination

You can’t change every habit at once. Choose one of the above that you do the most. Then consider what you should do to get over it.

Admit your favourite method of procrastination by writing it in a comment box. Then take steps, right now, to drop it from your arsenal.

Happy Writing!

14 comments on “How Can Writers Overcome Procrastination?

  1. Hi Shirley! Yes we writers are definitely creative. I’m afraid my favorite is getting sucked into social media! And one you forgot to add is — It’s time to walk the dog! I can always think of something when it’s time! ~Kathy

  2. I love all these things. As a writer, I employ every single one of them on your list, at one point. It is just the start of another year. Who knows how much procrastination I can manage before the year is over. Weshall see.

    • Hi Kerry, I’m so glad to meet another professional procrastinator! Isn’t it fun to think we have a whole year (minus three weeks – where have they gone?) to come up with more distractions from what we really want to achieve. Who knows? Perhaps in between them all, we will get some real writing done, and then I know we will feel good about it and wonder why we don’t do it more often!

    • Wish you could remember where you came from. 🙂 It helps to know what’s working in the promo line. So glad you made it thought and you found it helpful. Have a great day!

  3. A long time ago when Rob and Shirley were in ministry at our small church, they made us all some “Round Tuits” these were discs labelled as above and on them was a message that said that now that we all have one we can accomplish all those things we have been putting off doing because we could not get around to it. This was to teach us a lesson about procrastination. As an artist and a designer I too can be tempted into procrastinating about getting a design onto my pc or paper. My solution is a hard Globe chair to make me sit properly and to work in silence with no music no tv and no disturbances.

  4. Thanks for the interesting post. My favorite technique is looking online or in a bookshop for just the right writing craftbook to help me plot, create characters etc

    • Thanks Ruth. My object in posting this is to get us thinking of how “effective” and “self-destructing” our procrastination techniques are! I’m guilty of all of them at times.

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