Let’s face it, there are tons of writing jobs out there. I am talking in the millions. Sure, a good majority of those are driven by low-paying and content-mill type of work, which I highly oppose – as do most writers. However, the good news is that there are millions of people and companies out there looking for your services and willing to pay well for them. With a little diligence, it is reasonable that within a year you have a fully functional writing business that keeps you busy.
The one thing that can ruin it all is procrastination. The one thing about procrastination is that we all have reasons to say we are not procrastinating. Have you ever used these:
- I can’t function unless my office is clean
- If I don’t take some me time, I will only resent my work
- I can start as soon as I finish my laundry
- Just one more episode won’t hurt
- I have writer’s block at the moment
- I work better under pressure
The fact is, procrastination causes all sorts of problems from losing clients to adding unneeded stress to your life. But, what do you do when you are tired, when you aren’t “into” the writing, or when you just plain want to sit in front of the television with a bowl of ice cream?
Well, here are some tips to help you stay motivated, and do away with your procrastination.
Start small and go big
It is often the daunting task of a big project that keeps us from starting. Supplement the beginning of your day with smaller tasks, or breaking your large project into smaller sections. Several 30-minute writing assignments will help you feel productive and kick in the juice to keep you going all day long.
Understand how you operate
If you are not a morning person, then don’t start your work in the morning. If you need to be surrounded by activity, then write at a coffee shop instead of your home. If you work best late at night, work then. Many people procrastinate simply because they are forcing themselves to work when they are not ready to. Make sure your environment and your body-cycle are in sync with your writing time.
Make a checklist the day before
Writing out the assignments you need to do the next day is helpful. While you can use an app for this (and I have several), I find that writing things out in a notebook drives me to the work better than an app that is lost among dozens of other apps. Every night before going to bed, I pull out my notebook and make a checklist of all the writing I need to do the next day. I try to occupy only 75% of my time, for the unexpected, and to approach my day realistically instead of ideally.
Don’t fantasize about desired results
A big problem I used to have is planning my time around my best performance. For example, if I am sitting down and writing a book of my own, I can type at speeds upward of eighty words per minute that is 4,800 words per hour. If I write eight hours a day, that is 38,400 words, which is only a couple hours shy of one of my middle-grade novels. I can’t use those numbers to estimate the time it will take me to finish a draft for any client. The real number I use is about 750-1200 words a minute. This accounts for distractions, mind-lapses, rereading, and editing. Setting ourselves up for realistic goals, only sets us up for disappointment.
Break it up
This is my favorite way to work when I am not feeling motivated. I write for 45 minutes and walk away from my desk for 15. And I stay true to those times. When my 45-minute alarm goes off I don’t even bother to finish the word or sentence I am on. This somehow puts a bug in me, when my 15 minutes away expires to want to go back and finish what I had started. I used a similar technique with word count. I would set a daily word count. Let’s say 2500 words. Once I hit that number I stopped; mid-sentence, or mid-word did not matter. The next day I can’t wait to get back to that sentence and complete it.
Sure, morning exercise is great. It gets the blood flowing and the mind functional. However, I am talking writing exercises here. The following are my favorite go-to’s every morning.
- Speed-typing drills: I pick a subject and set my timer for 1-minute. I type as fast as I can on the subject without stopping for that minute. Sure, the writing sucks…it really does. But, this teaches me to free my mind from any obstacles and is my own way of practicing speed typing which is always helpful. When I’m done I type the number of words typed for that minute next to the exercise. I do this 3-5 times each morning. It keeps me motivated, adds a bit of adrenaline into my day and keeps me competitive.
- My day begins with me: There are times I have up to a dozen clients, but every day starts with me. I write 1000 rough draft words on a book or blog post that I consider my writing. This is writing that nobody is paying me for right now. This ensures that at the end of the day I will have invested in myself. Writing my own stories is motivating to me, and I don’t get the depression many ghostwriters face of writing books only for other people while ignoring my needs. Try it. It works!
- Practice mindful meditation: I hear the question now, do you, Jody, really meditate? The answer is, yes, every morning for 15-30 minutes. I have since I was in my twenties. I’ve been waking up early for years, like 3:30 AM early. So, I have a lot of quiet time early on. So, I do know the effects of mindful meditation and do consider them encouraging or else I wouldn’t meditate. In fact, a recent study on mindfulness and meditation had two key learnings:
- Increased mindfulness predicts lower levels of subsequent procrastination. This suggests that when individuals are mindful, they tend to procrastinate less.
- Increased procrastination predicts lower levels of subsequent mindfulness. This suggests that when individuals procrastinate a lot, they tend to be less mindful of their actions.
I’d love to hear how you overcome procrastination and stay motivated when writing. You never know when someone has a great idea you never thought of. If you can’t just get over your procrastination and need a writer to help you write your novel, memoir, blog posts or other type of book don’t hesitate to contact me.