Here you are, reading an article about writing better. Is it safe to assume that you’re procrastinating about writing right now?
That’s okay—we aren’t here to scold you like your English teacher might. We’ve all been there. Your essay, blog post, or your press release, or whatever it is that you’re currently writing will get done.
By following this step-by-step guide, you can breathe new life into your writing and check off your task in no time.
Step 1: To Begin is to Succeed
There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank document on your screen.
But think how easy it is to conquer that blank page. All you have to do is type one simple sentence.
This maxim, “To begin is to succeed,” can be applied to every single writing project you take on. While the first sentence you create might not survive your editing process, it’s a start. Before you know it, that first sentence will grow into three, and then into whole paragraphs, and then to a full page.
Keep in mind that your understanding of the task may be crippling your motivation. You’ll be more likely to procrastinate if the project seems ambiguous, unstructured, lacking in personal meaning, or without any intrinsic value.
Determine if these or any other triggers might be inhibiting your creative process. Is the task disorganized? Work with your editor or client to gain a clearer understanding. With a revitalized set of expectations, you can begin on your path to success.
Step 2: Gather a Team of Helpers
If you’re dreading that paper you have to write, call on a support team. No, not your Facebook friends. Build up a stockpile of both online and interpersonal supports that can be conduits of inspiration or, at least, encouragement.
These resources will keep you on task and alleviate pressure to finish entirely on your own:
- Hubspot’s Blog Ideas Generator – This will give you a range of catchy blog titles based on 3 nouns/subjects.
- The Grammarly Editor – Our free editing software offers you a second set of eyes to help catch errors and improve the effectiveness of your writing.
- Coach.me Digital Coaching – This useful tool has a dedicated track for writers, giving you a digital coach who will hold you accountable to write each day.
There’s nothing wrong with using a sentence generator to spark a creative piece or relying on a friend to give feedback on the final product. Use technology and your network to your advantage.
Step 3: Break Down the Greater Goal into Small Tasks
Writing a 4,000-word summary of a book can seem intimidating. But does writing four 1,000-word sections sound as bad?
Breaking down your greater goal into smaller, more manageable tasks will make it much easier to get the job done.
Take, for example, the freelancing platform, Upwork. When writers accept a large, daunting task—like copyediting a full-length manuscript—they can choose to complete the task all at once or in “milestones.”
Next time you’re slow to write, try splitting up your task into milestones. Write four hundred words per day. Or, write for one hour every morning from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. Trust us: you’ll feel proud of yourself for checking off a task each day.
Step 4: Get Rid of What’s Distracting You
At any given moment, you face a whole slew of distractions: a new email, a text message, or a Snapchat from a friend. It’s hard to ignore notifications—so hard, in fact, that researchers have found a connection between procrastination and internet use with an inability to ‘create flow’ or feel absorbed in tasks.
If you find yourself constantly distracted while you write, try using one of these tools to stay focused:
- Procraster – Ever wondered why you’re putting something off? Procraster gets to the psychological root of your distraction.
- Freedom – This app allows you to block any apps or websites that interfere with your writing.
- SelfControl – A more intense version of Freedom, this app lets you block anything that distracts you for a set period of time. You won’t be able to access what you’ve blocked until that time’s up—even if you disable the app.
— Glassdoor (@Glassdoor) July 5, 2018
Step 5: Ignore the Need for Perfection
The last step in writing efficiently is to ignore the little voice in your head that’s saying, “This must be the best thing you’ve ever written!”
Oftentimes, we write for everyone else instead of ourselves. Fixating on what the audience wants can lead to an overwhelming need for perfection, and perfection is unrealistic.
Be nice to yourself. Feeling shame will never help your writing, especially if it’s stemming from your procrastination. We are always our own worst critics; we judge our work and compare our abilities all the time. But all this does is surround your task with negative energy, which will lead you even further away from achieving your goals.
One more thing: if you tell others that you always procrastinate, then you’ll never break the habit. Instead, treat your task with curiosity and dispel the need for perfection.
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