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Four Steps to Overcome Writing Procrastination

The procrastination mindset

❶Procrastinating is not the same thing as being lazy: At the end of the day, overcoming procrastination does look a bit like Nike's "Just do it!

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Yet many of us are pantsers and this can cause time management problems. Read on for suggestions on managing writing time productively. While some of us are more pantsers than plotters, even flying by the seat of your pants requires that you have some idea of your destination. Where is your story going? You can take detours wherever you please once you have a general but clear idea of the direction you want your story to take. Distractions are real and disruptive, especially in the digital age where social media and general web browsing can take up much of your time.

You can read ideas for dealing with distractions and staying focused in step 3 below. Here are 7 steps you can take to become a more productive writer:. Taking action and no longer procrastinating might seem easier said than done. Uncover the true reasons for your never making time to write and half the struggle is won. Is it that you are creating creative paralysis but criticizing your work until you start over or abandon one story idea for another? Whatever it is, make a list of the fears or the challenges that are preventing you from realising your writing dream.

This will help you create a blueprint for staying motivated and productive. Is your working environment particularly noisy? Do you find you always have your favourite social media platform open in another tab in your browser and you check it frequently?

You can install browser extensions that stop you from visiting certain websites during set hours or for a set length of time that you decide on. Make sure that you set positive, productive writing goals. You can place overwhelming pressure on yourself this way. This could put you off and lead to procrastination. The blocks you could use include: Knowing you are only doing one thing at a time can make it easier to maintain motivation. Set a limit on the research you will do.

Some procrastinators suffer from a need to have a thorough knowledge of a subject before they can begin writing. For others, the research is the more enjoyable part of the assignment than the writing, where there is less pressure and you can browse the internet and books without having to put pen to paper. Remember that you are writing an essay, not a book, so you need to limit the amount of research you do and ensure that you don't let it take up all your time.

Ending up down a research rabbit hole will not help you finish your essay on time. If you have made endless pages of notes on your research, you won't necessarily be able to use it all in your essay anyway. Try to keep your research tightly focused to the topic of your essay and avoid the temptations to broaden it out too far. Make a to-do list with deadlines.

Once you have broken your tasks down into more manageable sections, you can organize your priorities. Drawing up a to-do list will help you to visualize the amount of work you have to do and the amount of time you have to do it in.

Structure your list around the sections you have already identified and try to attach specific deadlines to each job. For example, if you want to finish your research two weeks before the essay is due, write this down on your list and stick to it. When you are writing, you might give yourself a set number of pages or words to write each day. Two pages or words can be a good and reachable daily target. Be sure to cross off items as you complete them.

This can be a satisfying moment. You will see your list of tasks diminishing as you progress, which will help you to maintain motivation and focus. Draw up a time schedule. Once you have broken down all your tasks and organised them into a list of things to do, you need to plan your time around these jobs. Go through your diary or timetable and set aside time each day to work on your essay.

Try to be as specific as possible and assign particular tasks to particular timeslots. For example, you might write Monday 7pm - 8pm: There's nothing worse than being too optimistic about how quickly you can work and finding yourself behind schedule right from the start. Perhaps you write more slowly, but your writing is very accurate.

Compile a schedule of non-work activities. When you are scheduling in the time you need to spend working on your essay, you should not forget about the world outside the essay all together. Go through your timetable and mark in all the times when you are normally occupied by other work, social, family and sporting activities.

Try to protect some of these to give you a break from the essay. This schedule will also reveal how much time you really have to do the essay, which is likely to be less than you think.

Once you have a clearer picture of how your time is occupied, you will be able to plan your work schedule more effectively. You might think you have two weeks to do the essay, but once you have factored in all your commitments you could discover the number of free hours you have shrinks dramatically.

Make use of small blocks of time. When you are scheduling in time to work, you might think that you always need to set aside a couple of hours in order to make in worthwhile. This isn't necessarily the case. The day you are given your writing assignment, sit down and break it up into bite-size pieces. Start off by dedicating one day to come up with ideas to write about. This way you can see what you already know, and start generating ideas of where you can take the paper.

On the second day, write a thesis statement. This is a simple one sentence statement that tells the reader exactly what your paper is about. On the third day, write your introduction. Keep doing this bite by bite until you have finished writing your first draft. Getting started can be the hardest part , but once you have something written down, it becomes easier to get the rest out.

By separating the big paper into little sections, you alleviate the pressures of trying to tackle such a huge project. Also, having a game plan allows you to know where you are going next, and to see how much time you have to accomplish the task. No more rushed papers written at the last minute. This technique gives you time to go back and make changes to your paper, to make it stronger.

Working on a research paper? Check out this handy little tool for breaking down the assignment. At some point you have probably come across a paper that you found uninteresting, and therefore difficult to work on.

For those of you who struggle with this issue, this is the strategy for you. Remember when you were younger and parents would make you work on a homework project for an hour before you could go play outside?

You would immediately get to work; you wanted to go play outside as soon as possible! This technique uses the same idea. By forcing yourself to work on the project for an hour at a time you get your paper written, and can treat yourself by doing something else that you want to do. Often times, procrastinators are not safe when left alone to their own devices.

Even with good intentions in mind, reverting back to old habits is common. Therefore, getting together with other students who are working on the same paper is a good idea.

You can bounce ideas off of each other, clarify details, and keep each other focused. Plus, having people around can keep you from feeling that you are missing out on your social life, so you are less likely to blow a project off to go hang out with friends. Sometimes the simplest solution is often the best solution. When we are supposed to be writing a paper, things such as a T. How much easier would it be to avoid these distractions if we simply worked in a place that was free of them?

Whether that means removing that beloved television from your room, or finding a room to work in without one, a distraction-free environment can be the key to the success of your paper. There are some distractions however, that just cannot be removed as easily.


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Once you have determined that procrastination is hurting your writing, begin taking notice of how long it actually takes you to write. Many students have a “page an hour” rule. Perhaps you can write a page in an hour if you are totally rested, fed, and focused, your roommate isn’t home, and the wind is blowing just right.

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Many writers procrastinate, but you can end writing procrastination and finish writing a novel with the help of these 7 easy steps.

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No wonder students get the idea that being a good writer is defined by not writing bad stuff. Unfortunately, in your own work, you are confronted with every clunky paragraph, every labored metaphor and unending story that refuses to come to a point. You might tell yourself or your spouse or your writer friends, “Well, I’m procrastinating about writing right now.” But really, you’re not. Let me explain what I mean. The truth about procrastination. The reality is, you are never procrastinating. I know! It feels like you are. But you’re not.

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Whatever the case, whether your procrastination stems from a single cause or all of them at once, knowing what lies at the root of your writing struggle is the first step to overcoming it. Step #2: Lessen the pain. Writing every day for 30 minutes is a surefire way to break the procrastination-perfectionism link. Our center recently hosted a Day Writing Challenge for faculty members, postdocs, and grad students from around the U.S.