After We Stop Procrastinating…

Last month I wrote a blog post about procrastination. Today I want to tell you how I actually get myself to sit down and write.

Sometimes an idea comes and I just sit down and start writing. Or I jot down the idea and sit down and write as soon as I have a free minute. 

Often I look ahead and see that I have a blog post due soon and I start thinking about what I could write. I think about it as I walk, run, and drive through my days and, once I get an idea, I sit down to write. 

Other times, I notice I’m procrastinating, so I do the only thing that works for me. I schedule my writing time. I write down in my calendar “Write book,” because that’s the scariest thing I’m doing right now and I’ve procrastinated a lot over this book and enough’s enough.

Then, at the appointed time, I sit down at my desk. I don’t want to. I never want to sit down to write at the time I’ve scheduled it. I know this ahead of time so when I show up at the appointed time and “don’t feel like” sitting down to write, I accept this feeling and sit down anyway. When I do, I’m honoring my commitment to myself and to this project I’m working on that I care so much about. 

The first thing I write is my journal entry about how scared I am to do this writing. (I wrote about this last month.)

Then I begin. I write. It doesn’t have to be good. It only has to be done. 

If you haven’t done this kind of scheduled writing before, keep the time short. Fifteen minutes is plenty to begin with.

Your lizard brain may tell you 15 minutes is nothing, but try it anyway. You’ll be surprised how much you can write in 15 minutes, especially when you don’t give yourself permission to edit along the way.

Schedule your 15 minutes of writing time and write. When the timer goes off or you notice 15 minutes has gone by, stop. You are done. You did what you said you would do. You kept a promise to yourself. 

It doesn’t have to be good. This is not about quality. That’s for later, when you are editing. 

When I resist writing writing down my writing time, or resist getting specific about what I want to write, that’s when I know I definitely need to schedule my writing time.

Here’s my process:

  1. Notice resistance to writing or even scheduling writing time.
  2. Schedule writing time anyway.
  3. Sit down and write at the appointed time, no matter how you feel about writing.
  4. Stop when your time is up.
  5. Close document or notebook. 
  6. Repeat.

What happens when you schedule your writing time?

*******

Diane MacKinnon, MD, is a Master Certified Life Coach who used to work as a Family Physician. She’s passionate about writing and journaling and is (still!) working on her first book, a self-help book for medical peeps. You can find her at her website, www.dianemackinnon.com.

13 thoughts on “After We Stop Procrastinating…

    • Hi valleygirlwalking,
      I’m glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for reading and happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  1. Oh, baby have I been there. Today even. I have had a piece to write, but l kept putting it off. It wasn’t like I didn’t know the story… I knew exactly what I wanted to say.

    Normally, this is a no-brainer, but this story is for a CONTEST!. Someone is going to judge it. 😮 Instant paralysis.

    It ended today with my scheduled “butt strapped to the seat, fingers on the keyboard” writing session. And guess what? It’s done. My Alpha reader has approved it. With few more corrections, it is off to my critique partner. The strategy works.

    • Hi JoHawkTheWriter,
      Yay! So glad you got your piece done. Yes, butt in chair is the only way writing gets done. Good for you for doing what you needed to do!

      Happy writing!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  2. Pingback: After We Stop Procrastinating… — Live to Write – Write to Live | ccmanny

  3. Dear Diane,
    Your blog reached me just in time to wake me up to sit down and start writing my book.
    I have been procrastinating it for sometime now.
    Thankyou for ringing the bell
    All the best for your book writing:))

    • Hi thinkingallowed2017,
      I’m so glad you have started your book! Congrats on beginning! I’m slowing making my way through my book. It’s a slog but I’m determined. The hard part is dealing with my fears. Once I sit down to write, I do okay.

      Best wishes for your book project!

      Warmly,
      Diane

  4. I think now about all the years of my life now behind me when I was always ‘going to write, this or write that.’ I believe now it is important while you are younger to try and capture at least a bit of precious time and make it MY WRITING TIME. With young children etc it is often easier to put it off, put it off. But if in the writing time you say to yourself ……I WILL write something during that time. Forget all about what, goals, etc etc but write something. I remember one day when I did that I wrote one word….Hopeless. (ie this idea of scheduled time is hopeless). That one word resonated in my mind and a bit at a time I wrote about hopeless situations. Beyond the Ashes my first book came out of the hopeless impact of my pathetic attempt to stop procrastinating. Anyone interest in my life at present where I simply write for the sheer joy of writing may like my Bear Stories. Many folk simply drop by and I simply write for the love of it. Thank you for the blog. Encouragement and blessings on the journey to all who desire to WRITE.
    http://www.golden-rains.com

  5. Procrastination is a common issue that I face during writing process. Scheduling a time slot to make us sit to write should work. Great post dear.

  6. Procrastination is definitely a theft of time (writing time in this regard). What I find to be very helpful is keeping a note pad with me so when ideas comes I can jot them down and get back to them when I have time.

  7. A book that opened my eyes on how to stop procrastinating is Mel Robbins ‘5 Second Rule.’ When you’re faced with doing something, and as you say, your lizard brain cuts in, count from 5 to 1 and then do the action you need to do. Like exercising, writing is something most of don’t want to do regularly. But like exercise, if you wait around for the right mood to strike you’ll probably never sit down and do it. You’ve got to be your own parent to yourself, and tell yourself that you’re not going to get off that seat until you do your daily words.

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