Just Say NO to Not Writing! Six Steps for Outwitting Writing Procrastination

Just Say NO to Not Writing! Six Steps for Outwitting Writing Procrastination

1. Set a timer for ten minutes and assign yourself the task of writing without stopping for those ten minutes on a topic you’ve been meaning to write about. If you don’t have one in mind, use one of these: describe an annoying co-worker or describe a time when someone you loved was leaving or compare the life you are leading to the one you or your parents imagined you’d be leading.

2. Write without stopping. If you can’t think of what to write next from one sentence to another, write the same sentence over and over again until something new arrives. You won’t repeat it for very long before the next image or idea arrives. Our minds don’t really like to bore us, and with permission to just write, interesting things will surface.

3. Now give yourself the freedom not to worry about how what you just wrote will fit with what you are going to write next. Imagine yourself in a situation that for you illustrates what you have just written. Describe that situation. Use a snippet of dialog from the situation. Tell what objects or people are in the room with you. Talk about what you are thinking.

4. Notice how putting yourself in a scene that exemplifies what you were describing in the freewrite causes you to use specifics–dialog, names of objects, actions and people. These hook you into re-living your experience and help you as writer to use illustrative specifics rather than generalize with summaries and abstractions. (Too many summaries and abstractions and you’ll disengage from your writing because it will seem bland.)

5. Now you may use editorial words, words that judge rather than show by writing a sentence that articulates what the scene you described illustrates about you.

6. You’ve created a scene that engages with tangibles and then asserts an understanding. Notice this and commend yourself.

It’s not as hard to get started as you might have thought!

If you are still having trouble, though, with your inner critic, tell that persona:

1. I will not worry about accuracy or poor memory. I can fact check later and the act of writing will in itself help me remember more and more.

2. I will be interesting enough because instead of focusing on the intensity of my feelings, I will focus on tangibles in my subject, the images I can see, feel, taste, touch and smell. They will convey my feelings.

3. I don’t have to appear perfect and neither do those I am writing about because it is in exposing and examining human foibles that we realize our likenesses and most human qualities.

5 responses to “Just Say NO to Not Writing! Six Steps for Outwitting Writing Procrastination

  1. Sheila,

    Thanks for this process of coaxing ourselves to move from resisting to surrendering.


  2. Sheila, I love how you help us transition from freewriting (“Only 10 minutes? sure, I can do that”) to creating an illustrative scene, bringing in the concrete details that support what we’ve written—a process that helps us move seamlessly from journaling to essay.

    I also love the affirmations at the end. They should be posted on every writer’s wall and spoken aloud at the beginning of every writing session. 🙂

  3. Great tips, Janet. Thank you for posting on WordPress. I look forward to following your future blogs and picking up more good tips!

  4. Sheila Bender

    I’m glad my thinking strikes a chord!

  5. Pingback: One Step at a Time Towards a Fuller Life | afternoonstorm

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