My fingerprint is unique, and if I were accused of murder it would separate me absolutely from the many millions of other suspects on the earth, but I couldn’t really tell you which way the lines swirl on my thumb if I didn’t study them. Similarly, writers who procrastinate each have a totally unique style, and they are often not fully aware of how they do it.
When a writer tells me that he or she procrastinates, I learn next to nothing about the problem that has to be addressed.
Phase one of making changes in this arena is to gain a detailed comprehension of the problem, like any CSI actor-detective would do. This means collecting specific information about what you do, think and feel about your writing. How exactly do you avoid and postpone? It is not necessarily simple, and sometimes embarrassing, to observe these things closely, but it’s important to do if you want to write more productively.
To get started, here are a few questions from my book that help define procrastination for writers. Rate yourself from 1 – 10; with 1 being “never” and 10 being “all the time.”
__ I consistently avoid writing, though I want to do it
__ I consistently miss goals I set for writing
__ I consistently miss deadlines set by others
__ I daydream or “space out” when I could be writing
__ I criticize myself frequently for procrastinating
__ I conceal from others that I have a problem with procrastination
__ I write in binges when deadlines loom
__ I am dissatisfied with the work I produce when I write in binges
__ I have little or no control over my procrastination
If you have lots of 8’s, 9’s, and 10’s on this mini-test, it may behoove you to really look at the thoughts, feelings and behaviors that accompany your procrastination, and begin to make a plan that will specifically address your issues. It’s not easy – the most common approach people take toward altering these patterns is to procrastinate about stopping their procrastination.
The challenge is daunting, but think about it…do you really want to be named as an accomplice to the murder of your own writing?