You don’t hear mechanics complaining “Ugh, I just can’t mechanic today!” Or “I went to the garage to mechanic and I ended up cleaning the bathroom and watching four hours of ‘House Hunters International.’ I got no mechanicking done at all!”
Nope, it’s mostly writers and, maybe, other creatives. It’s also the bane of freelancers who work from the corners of their bedrooms or atop their dining room tables or via the comfy sofas of their distraction-filled homes.
“It” is procrastination and HERE ARE FIVE TIPS TO BEAT IT:
1. Turn off the Music. I always thought I worked better with music blasting through my headphones, so every day I cued up my “Yo, The Reedster Raps” Spotify playlist. With “Gangsta’s Paradise” cranked, I shouted to myself, “THIS IS GREAT, CINDY! YOU ARE GETTING SO MUCH DONE!” Turns out, however, that Slim Shady and friends were interfering with my concentration. Go figure. Now, I play white noise videos on Netflix that feature babbling brooks or ocean waves or birds chirping in a rainforest. Try it. You might surprise yourself and stay on task longer.
2. Block Out the Noise. If I’m trying to write with kids in the house, even white noise isn’t noisy enough. Instead, I pull out these bad boys –
– yes, the kind of earmuffs that people who operate jackhammers or direct planes wear – and work in a sound deprivation chamber of my own making. Click HERE to purchase your own 3M earmuffs on Amazon.
3. Cut the Cord. George R.R. Martin famously writes on a DOS computer from the 1980s, no internet connection allowed. “But, Cindy!” you cry, “I need the internet to do research!” And I say to you, researcher extraordinaire, if I may be so bold as to reference the musical stylings of Miss Taylor Swift, that you should leave a blank space. If you come to a spot where you need to check the spelling of a name or dig deeper into a scientific process, highlight that space in yellow and fill it in later. The Wikipedia rabbit hole looms large and we writers are too weak to resist its magnetic pull. Stop yourself or, before you know it, you’ll be reading about the making of the video for Enrique Iglesias’ “Bailando” (English and Spanish versions):
“As the song starts Iglesias, Bueno and Gente D’ Zona walk the streets of the city, surrounded by working people and kids who juggle soccer balls. Enrique and Co. are then seen performing ‘Bailando’ in a tunnel, running through a street market and [with] a troop of flamenco dancers showing off their moves.” ASK ME HOW I KNOW ABOUT THIS.
4. Time Thyself. When I was flying back from Ethiopia on a packed airplane by myself with my newly adopted and very fussy infant daughter, my mantra as I began to run out of baby wipes and formula was: “I can do anything for 18 hours.” And I never find myself needing to write for 18 hours straight, nor does it ever involve human waste (knock on wood). So when I start feeling like maybe I can’t write for a certain amount of time – that, in fact, sitting at my desk without a wailing, crapping child in my lap is just TOO HARD – I set a timer for 15 minutes and write until it goes off.
5. Write a Crappy First Draft. I recently wrote a blog post that was due in four hours using the following process:
- Panic because you have zero ideas
- Write an awful first draft of whatever comes into your head
- Walk Dog #1
- Revise awful draft
- Walk Dog #2
- Walk Dog #3
- Have you always wanted write regularly but don’t know how to start?
- Do you struggle to find time to write?
- Do you find yourself waiting for the perfect conditions before you can put pen to paper?
Give yourself the gift of a regular writing practice that you can sustain and make your own long after my e-course is over. Throughout the month, you’ll get access to tips, prompts, video inspiration, and exercises to help you finally integrate writing into your daily habits.
CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE DETAILS.