Tips for Overcoming Procrastination

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Every writer wants to pen more stories. Unfortunately, most writers struggle to produce as much as they dream, and that conflict haunts aspiring novelists the world over. Everyone’s frustrations take different shapes, but these four tips go a long way towards a higher word count.

Set Reasonable Goals

Walking up a hill is less daunting than climbing a mountain. If you start the week staring at a mountain, chances are low you’ll kick off writing time with optimism and enthusiasm. Extremely large goals can even overshadow the creative process. It’s a recipe for frustration and writer’s block.

Start small. You can always exceed your goals or add secondary targets if you’re really racing through your work. Most people find it easier to start manageable goals, and while it’s great to aim high, overestimating your patience, available time, and focus will hurt your aspirations in the end.

Get Pavlovian

Everyone likes a treat. To ensure your successes stick in your subconscious, spoil yourself a little when you hit goals. Finish your first draft? Great! Time for ice cream. Did you hit your expected word count each week for an entire month? The nice coffee is on sale. If you enjoy activities more than food, take a day to go hiking, spend a weekend at the lake, or join the local sports club.

Find an Accountability Buddy

Think of how many books you read in school. Now consider how many novels you read as an adult, or during summer break. While you probably enjoy reading as much now as you did in high school or college, you don’t have the outside pressure to read. No one holds you accountable for the 100 books you resolved to read last New Year.

An accountability buddy makes your dreams of productivity much more tangible. Your word count and edits aren’t just a matter of internal frustration. Someone else knows, and they’re cheering you on. They may even be looking forward to your finished book.

Change Your Environment

When you surround yourself with distractions, productivity hears its death-knell. Although it’s instinct to surround yourself with things you like, a perfectly cozy writing nook is only a writing nook if you – you know – write in it. If you can spend an hour slowly sipping tea, marveling at the colorful birds visiting the feeder outside the window, you’ll have a great time. But you won’t actually get anything accomplished.

Save that cozy nook for brainstorming and find another place to work. Tables and chairs are good, and if you can stay up a little later or get up a little earlier, the kitchen or dining room may become your writing space. If dirty dishes or family clutter distract you, find another spot. Have a large closet? After spring cleaning, you might want to make that your tiny, distraction-free office.

What stops you from being productive? How have you achieved your goals in the past? Give these suggestions a try and let us know how they worked. Did you see a change in your productivity?

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