procrastinationWriter's Block - Or Procrastination?

by Marg McAlister

 

You've probably read a lot about writer's block. So you'll know that it's a touchy subject with some people. In fact, for those who don't believe any such thing exists, it's like waving a red rag at a bull.

"Writer's block! Hah! No such thing!" they'll splutter, their eyes flashing in scorn. "Just an excuse for putting things off. Get your butt on that seat and write, that'll take care of it."

Others, drowned in misery because nothing seems to work, feel writer's block sitting like a big, heavy boulder in their chests. They want to write. They have to write. But... nothing's coming. The stream of ideas has dried up. They're ready to jump off a cliff. They'd give anything to be able to just 'sit down and write'.

What's the truth of the matter? Probably that one person's writer's block is another person's delaying tactic. Why does there have to be one truth for all? It's all in how we perceive it. It's probably worth taking a look at your life - and your writing - to see if there's anything there that can be readily identified as contributing to that block, real or imagined.

In the article below, Alexandria Brown offers six reasons why we all seem to procrastinate.

Read through them... and then we'll continue this discussion.

Procrastination Marketing -- It Works!
by Alexandria K. Brown, "The E-zine Queen"
I'm guessing that right now there are several marketing tasks you've been putting off. Perhaps it's revamping your website. Or sending out your first e-zine. Or getting listed in the search engines. Or putting together a media kit. So why haven't you done it? Believe me, this is a battle I fight with myself too. But you know what I realized?
Procrastination is NOT evil! Instead of seeing procrastination as a terrible thing, I now see it as a tool that helps me learn how I work best. In fact, I've arrived at six different reasons why we all seem to procrastinate. Here they are, along with what you can learn from (and do for) each.
Reason 1: You are procrastinating because you don't enjoy the entire task or job. Solution: One of my life coaches told me several years ago that if I didn't like doing something, I should "delete it, delegate it, or automate it." What a great way to look at things! I'm a big fan of ONLY doing tasks I enjoy or am good at. The rest I outsource to people who are good at it and/or enjoy it.
Reason 2: You are procrastinating because you don't enjoy a PART of the entire task or job. Solution: If you're putting off a whole project just because there's one part you don't want to do, figure out how you can get away without doing that part. Again, delete it, delegate it, or automate it.
Reason 3: You are procrastinating because you don't know how to handle the task or job. Solution: The answer will not drop in your lap. Get help -- a consultant to teach you how, a book or home study course to show you how, or even better, outsource it to someone who can just do it for you.
Reason 4: You are procrastinating because you simply can't find the time. Solution: Schedule future time to do it, or get rid of other tasks to create the time you need. If you still can't do this, then you need to find someone to do it for you.
Reason 5: You are procrastinating because you feel stuck. Solution: You may just need to get momentum going. Give yourself permission to do just one small part of the project only. Or do the easiest part first. (That's how I started writing my entire home study course.) This usually creates momentum, and you end up doing a lot more than you intended to!
Reason 6: You are procrastinating because you don't really want to do what you thought you should do. Solution: This means you may have the wrong objective or strategy in the first place! Is this something you really want to do, or do you just think you SHOULD do it? Or is it an old goal that doesn't fit you or your business anymore? Your answer may surprise you. Let the goal go for awhile and see what happens. : )
Start Paying Attention! Once you start paying attention to which activities you put off regularly, you'll know sooner when to be stricter with yourself or find help to get those tasks accomplished in a more timely manner. So take a minute and make your list right now of what marketing tasks you've been putting off! Don't beat yourself up about it, just make a note and figure out how to get them done.
© 2004 Alexandria K. Brown

Okay. Back with me in the world of writers again? I'm sure you can see the way Alexandria's thoughts on 'procrastination marketing' fit neatly into the writing environment. (Which is probably not surprising, considering she is intimately connected with the world of ezines and writers.)

Let's take her 'reasons for procrastination' one at a time, and examine them more closely.

Reason 1: You are procrastinating because you don't enjoy the entire task or job. I hardly dare say this, but... are you still enjoying your writing? If the whole thing is becoming too much of a chore; if you'd rather have a root canal than sit down to plot another chapter or write another scene... then cut your losses and move on to something where you're having fun! Nobody has to write.

So what if you've spent money on a course or a library of how-to books? Countless people try out a hobby for a while then move on to something else when they tire of it.

Solution: If writing is a pain in the butt - find another hobby or another job.

Reason 2: You are procrastinating because you don't enjoy a PART of the entire task or job. Maybe you absolutely love to sit down and plot a story. You write page after page outlining scene structure, chapter order, and character profiles. You create wonderful twists and amazing red herrings. But when it comes to writing... it dies on the computer screen. Those great ideas just don't look the same on the page as they did in your mind.

Or it may be the other way around. You write wonderful, emotive scenes and snappy dialogue - but the plot sucks. Boy, do you fall down on the plot. How the heck do people do it?

Solution: There are two possible solutions here. (1) Intensive training in the part you don't enjoy or (2) delegation of the part you don't enjoy. In the writing world, delegation could mean either working with a ghostwriter (if it's the creative part that lets you down) or co-writing. You may be one of those people who works well in collaboration. Find someone whose skills complement yours.

Reason 3: You are procrastinating because you don't know how to handle the task or job.

Solution: Writing is like any other craft. The more you work at it, the better you get. (OK, there is the occasional exception to that rule... but most people improve over time.) It's easy to put off writing simply because you know you have a lot to learn. Don't be intimidated by writers who turn out book after book filled with wonderful stories and characters. Instead, use them as a measure of what you want to accomplish.

Take it a step at a time, and just focus on building your skills. Buy books on writing. Subscribe to newsletters, magazines, ezines and tipsheets. Go to classes. Do a course. Attend seminars and workshops. Bit by bit, improve your skills - and look upon it as a really enjoyable journey.

Reason 4: You are procrastinating because you simply can't find the time.

Solution: Ah, time management. The bane of us all. First, ask yourself how much you want this. Is writing important enough to make time? If so... block out that time and stick to it. If it's not all that important - maybe this is not the right time in your life. Can you put it off for a month, six months, a year... until your life settles down? If that gives you a sense of relief, then do it. If you can't see how to make time, but you still want to write, then you simply have to delegate some of the other tasks taking up your time, or pay someone else to do them. There's no other answer.

Reason 5: You are procrastinating because you feel stuck.

Solution: The answer here is pretty much the same as it was in Alexandria's article. I'll quote: "You may just need to get momentum going. Give yourself permission to do just one small part of the project only. Or do the easiest part first. (That's how I started writing my entire home study course.) This usually creates momentum, and you end up doing a lot more than you intended to!"

There you go. If Alexandria can write a whole home study course... you can write a book. Pick a scene to write that seems easy or fun - and tackle that first, no matter where it comes in the book. Then do the next... and the next.

Reason 6: You are procrastinating because you don't really want to do what you thought you should do.

Solution: This is similar to Reason 1. You don't have to write. If you don't enjoy it - don't. But you may simply be writing the wrong thing. For example, when I was involved with Romance Writers of Australia, I encountered quite a few people who admitted they were writing romance fiction only because they thought it could be lucrative - or 'easy'. Most of them eventually gave up writing romances - because they were not really interested.

You need to find what is right for you. Plenty of writers who started out wanting to write picture books have found that they vastly prefer writing for older children. Fiction writers have decided that they would rather write non-fiction; romance writers have moved to mainstream, and technical writers have found pleasure in writing books for teenagers. If you don't really want to write what you thought you wanted to write - take some time to experiment.

Thank you, Alexandria... for both the lessons on "procrastination marketing" and the insights into what may be behind writer's block!

Procrastination Marketing - It Works! (c) Alexandria Brown. Online entrepreneur Alexandria K. Brown, "The E-zine Queen," is creator of the award-winning 'Boost Business With Your Own E-zine' system. To learn more about this step-by-step program, and to sign up for FR*EE how-to articles and teleclasses, visit www.EzineQueen.com

Commentary relating this article to the needs of writers (c) Marg McAlister

 

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