What Is Procrastination & How Do Writers Beat It?

What Is Procrastination & How Do Writers Beat It?


In this post we look at delaying tactics used by authors. We ask: What is procrastination and how do writers beat it?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I’ve been procrastinating. All writers do it all the time. It seems to be an occupational hazard.

What Is Procrastination & How Do Writers Beat It?

What Is Procrastination?

According to Oxford, it is: ‘the act of delaying something that you should do, usually because you do not want to do it.’ When we procrastinate, we to put off doing something (including writing) intentionally and habitually.

Merriam-Webster explains the origins of the word: ‘English speakers borrowed the word in the 16th century from Latin procrastinatus, which itself evolved from the prefix pro-, meaning “forward,” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow.” Like its synonyms “delay,” “lag,” “loiter,” “dawdle,” and “dally,” “procrastinate” means to move or act slowly so as to fall behind. It typically implies blameworthy delay especially through laziness or apathy.’

Why Do Writers Procrastinate?

Procrastinating is not the same as writer’s block, although both stop you from actually doing any work. Writer’s block is more about having an ideas blockage – or being stuck. If you think you have writer’s block, read this post: 30 Practical Tips To Beat Writer’s Block. If you want to know more about procrastinating, carry on here:

  1. Writing Is Hard Work – You have to think really hard if you want to write well. You need to consider your plot, your characters, your settings, your story goals – and more.
  2. We Don’t Have A Plan – It’s easier to put things off when you don’t have a deadline or a road map showing you where you’re going. Take some time to plan your writing routine. Set a daily word count.
  3. We Haven’t Formed A Habit – Creating a writing habit is essential for beating procrastination. It’s similar to exercising. Once you’ve done something for 21 days, you’ll miss it if you don’t do it anymore. Try to form a habit with writing prompts, and then use this writing time for your story.
  4. We Haven’t Developed Our Idea – This is why plotting or outlining can really help you. The outline with your 60-80 scenes to write always gives you something to write. You can jump ahead and write something else if you’re bored with where you are.
  5. We’re Frightened Of Failing Or Succeeding – Once you start writing, your idea becomes a reality. It is something that can be judged. Some people worry that they’re not getting it right. Some people worry that they are and that they lose something special when making the dream real.
  6. We’re Waiting For Inspiration – This is a myth. Inspiration will only find you when you are writing. Don’t wait for the muse.

Are There Different Types Of Procrastinators?

  1. Active Procrastinators – These writers will do anything other than write – even clean the house.
  2. Passive Procrastinators – These writers will simply not do the writing work.

It doesn’t matter which one you are, you need to find ways to work through this problem.

How Do Writers Beat Procrastination?

Here are some tips to help you overcome your time-wasting:

  1. Create a writing routine.
  2. Create an outline.
  3. Set a deadline.
  4. Set a daily word count goal.
  5. Join an online writing community.
  6. Give yourself permission to write badly.

Procrastination Quotes

  1. Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him. ~Charles Dickens
  2. The scholar’s greatest weakness: calling procrastination research.~ Stephen King
  3. I’m a big believer in putting things off, In fact, I even put off procrastinating. ~Lisa Kleypas
  4. Procrastination: as endemic to and dreaded by writers as writer’s block. ~Jenna Blum
  5. Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. ~Victor Kiam
  6. The thing all writers do best is find ways to avoid writing. ~Alan Dean Foster
  7. We are so scared of being judged that we look for every excuse to procrastinate. ~Erica Jong
  8. Procrastination is not Laziness. It is fear. Call it by its right name, and forgive yourself. ~Julia Cameron

The Last Word

I hope this practical advice helps you to stop procrastinating and start writing.

Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.

 by Amanda Patterson
© Amanda Patterson

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Top Tip: Find out more about our workbooks and online courses in our shop.