As with so many things, the hardest part of writing isn’t getting the task done but getting started — sitting yourself down at your workspace and putting pen to paper (or keystrokes to computer). But writer’s procrastination is different from other forms of delay.
I put off cleaning the bathroom because it’s unpleasant, or planning my week’s menus because it’s boring. I don’t avoid getting my car’s oil changed because I’m afraid I’m lousy at driving to the mechanic’s shop.
That’s what’s behind writer’s procrastination, at least the form that plagues me. Fear of failure. What if I can’t do it? What if I find out my ideas don’t work? What if other people find out just how bad I am at this?
Fear of failure and a lack of self-confidence are two of “The 5 Most Common Reasons We Procrastinate,” writes Shahram Heshmat, Ph.D., in Psychology Today.
“When difficulties arise,” Heshmat observes, “people with weak self-confidence easily develop doubts about their ability to accomplish the task at hand, while those with strong beliefs are more likely to continue their efforts.”
This is the point where most articles on writing might offer you strategies for shouting down that little voice that says “Why bother? You suck.”
But you’ve probably heard them all before. If they worked, you wouldn’t be here hoping to finally find the magic formula for pushing past your procrastination and getting that Nobel-winning novel done.
I’m not going to do that.
I’m going to give you all the things you could be doing instead of working on your dream of being a great writer with something to say and an audience who’ll listen. Because if you’re reading this, you’re obviously out of good procrastination ideas.
25 Better Things to Do Today Than Write
- Organize clothes in your closet by type, color and last time worn.
- Update all your social media profiles.
- Shop for another app to help you organize your social media posts.
- Search Facebook for that person you went out with once in college.
- Replace worn-out file folders in your filing cabinet and change contents so they’re filed from front to back or from back to front.
- Put files back in the order they were in before.
- Clean out email folders and create new filing system.
- Walk your dog. (If you don’t have a dog, walk yourself.)
- Wash the crisper drawer in your refrigerator.
- Look up a new recipe for chicken.
- Check to see if you have the ingredients for the new recipe.
- Create a spreadsheet listing all the food in your kitchen cabinets.
- Redo outline for the article that’s due tomorrow..
- Create wish list for furniture you want to buy.
- Download and read user’s manual for your newest appliance.
- Have your smart speaker find new workout routines.
- Search for YouTube videos that might have good research on the article that’s due tomorrow.
- Post snarky comment about the cat video you just watched on YouTube.
- Update the watch list on your movie streaming service.
- Change passwords on social media accounts.
- Request reset help for new passwords because you didn’t write them down.
- Girls: Try that “smoky eye” makeup thing. Guys: Make list of pros and cons for growing a beard.
- Box up your old CDs for donation to charities.
- Call around to see if any charities actually want your old CDs.
- Make a list of 25 ways to avoid writing the article that’s due tomorrow.