How to Procrastinate (So You’d Rather Be Writing)

Last week I talked about the importance of honest self-awareness as relates to building a healthy writing routine. This week that knowledge is going to come in handy again. Having a grasp on what plays nicely with your personality and work preferences/style not only makes the best use of your time and energy; it helps defend against one of the greatest foes of the written word:


Even the most organized, proactive super-writer will hit a wall now and then. Just about anything will sound better than merely glancing at a manuscript. Alas, it should be the other way around; nothing should sound better than having the ability to write! So, here are just a few ways to inspire, cajole, manipulate, and order your inner procrastinator back to the keyboard and into your story-world. Which method works best for your personality?

A word of caution: I advise avoiding any method of procrastination that induces pangs of guilt in you. If sitting down to play video games instead of writing—as fun as it might be at the time—ends up making you mentally chastise yourself for the rest of the day I’d suggest holding off on slaying some orcs or undead until after your writing is done. The goal is to think of writing as your happy place, not the manacles preventing your escape into the joyful sunlight.

Get in the mood.
Close the curtains, crank your favorite tunes as loud as you’re comfortable (or wear headphones if you have an apartment/nice neighbors), and have a personal rave. Bonus points for including glow-sticks. (Extra bonus if you use a more environmentally friendly alternative!)

A deal’s a deal.
Strike a bargain with yourself. Grab a book that you’ve been dying to read. You may read one chapter for everyone chapter that you write. You might need to have a buddy confiscate the book after each chapter. If the book is making writing seem less appealing instead of spurring you on, switch the book to the most boring thing you can find. Comparatively, writing might seem like a dream!

Eureka, I have cleaned it!
Scrub your toilets. Mow the lawn. Vacuum. Do the hand-wash-only laundry that’s been piling up for months. Do whatever chore you hate the most as long as it’s fairly mindless. You’ll open up the mental space for a possible epiphany and have finally pulled the cat hair out of the carpet too!

Desperate times call for desperate measures.
You’ll need assistance for this one. Have a spouse, roommate, friend, enemy, etc. reset and withhold the Wi-Fi password (or remove the Ethernet cable) until you’ve done your daily writing. Hand over any smartphones or tablets that could connect you to the world beyond. Harsh? Yes. Effective? If you’re desperate to regain access to cat videos or Twitter, this just might work.

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