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the good life in a digital age

10 ways to stop procrastinating and just write

Writing is one of my favourite things and I find it pretty easy to start writing, whether that’s articles, academic essays or blogs post. Finishing is a different story. Time and time again I’ll get 75% of the way there and then just not finish something. Suddenly the washing up or gardening or putting the rubbish out all look way more important than finishing what I was writing.

These are my ten tactics for getting writing done (they don’t all work together):

  1. just opening the documents
  2. Odd one this but I’ve found that sometimes I need an agreement with myself that I’m just going to open the word doc and I don’t actually have to write anything. This makes sure that whatever else I do online that the document is there and waiting.

  3. doing the mundane but easy stuff
  4. When I don’t want to write I find that going back to the text and doing the non-creative tasks, like putting links and references in or spell-checking the article, tends to reengage me with what I was actually writing and I end up merrily writing away.

  5. telling yourself you are just going to do a small bit
  6. I’ll decide I’m only going to write 50 words. Seems trivial so I’ll usually get on and do it, and then do some more.

  7. taking the internet away
  8. The internet is a big distraction and when I’m writing it is always there. From Facebook, to mail, to RSS, the internet is a never-ending source of other peoples thoughts to read rather than write your own thoughts down. Switch it off or switch to paper.

  9. reading it outloud (to the cat)
  10. Has the disadvantage of making you look off your trolley if anyone catches you. You could read it outloud to another human being but where’s the fun in that? Just reading outloud helps you engage in a different way

  11. printing and reading what you’ve done
  12. Changing medium from screen to paper has been my solution since my student days. Still seems to work.

  13. changing location
  14. I think I’ve mentioned before my preference for sitting on the rabbit hutch at the end of the garden but in general just moving to another place in house, garden, office or anywhere else seems to restart my thinking

  15. talking about what you are supposed to be doing with someone else
  16. Just telling someone else that I’m supposed to be writing my article about ‘x’ is quite successful. Unless the topic is really boring (or they are playing Playstation at the time) then they’ll usually ask you something about the topic and telling them about it tends to get me interested again.

  17. reading around the subject
  18. I find the initial reading easy. This is when I’m learning stuff and that can be addictive. Writing is not about learning anymore but about sharing what you’ve learnt but if I get stuck with the writing then reading even more can help, if it looks like procrastination when you’ve already read enough to start writing.

  19. draw it instead
  20. This one’s been quite useful recently. If you don’t feel like writing then get a big piece of paper and draw your ideas.

Written by Karen

June 20th, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Posted in gtd