Today I’d like to welcome guest blogger, Patrick M. Greene, who provides practical advice every writer should consider to avoid laziness. This is something I’ve struggled with from time to time when life or the “I don’t feel like it” hits. Patrick’s insight on setting goals, motivation, and better organization can be the jump-start from stagnation to productive writing.
When you’ve finally generated an appealing story or lead, one stiff question comes to play: how do I actually start this thing? Sadly, when a writer with an average resolve comes up dry on his first few attempts to write the introduction or sustain the intensity, it’s likely going to be a major slack off. Those overstated goals suddenly turn into movie marathons or binge eating.
After losing your purpose and getting rusty, you have to rekindle your inner drive. The writing world has no room for mediocrity. If you want to turn your story to the likes of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, it’s all about consistency. But first, let’s identify the main influencers of procrastination in writing:
- Little doses of temptations that eventually lead to postponement (e.g., smartphones, web surfing, Netflix streaming, etc.);
- Not knowing how to start (absence of a concrete writing plan);
- Past failures (e.g., not getting published, rejected initial drafts, etc.);
- Little motivation (not seeing the worth of one’s work).
Avoid setting humongous goals
“I will finish all of these tomorrow in one sitting.” – biggest lie ever.
Most writers want to write in a one-and-done way, or exhaust all possible efforts in a single day. However, there are two drawbacks here: pressure and poor revisions.
It’s easy – and pleasuring – to defer tasks and live by the moment knowing that you have a couple of ‘blast’ days solely designated for writing. When you get too attached to current pleasures, it now gets hard to divert attention. You may cringe and ask yourself, “Can I really accomplish this mountain of work in a single day?” That’s when pressure and the cycle of laziness sink in.
Poor revisions (and overall work quality) are to be expected too. When you’re pressed for results in such a limited time, you tend to be more agreeable with what you wrote instead of critically evaluating it. So what’s the catch? Plan what you can realistically write without compromising quality.
Myopic goals won’t cut it
What do you really want to accomplish in your writing career? Is it publishing a single book, a handful, or being regarded as one of the innovators in the mundane world of writing? If you’re just looking after pay checks, you’re more likely to quit earlier.
Convince yourself that writing is your passion. Utilize every waking day to learn something through practice and research. There’s really more to writing than just getting paid and turning projects in. Writing has to be one of the things that rejuvenate your life.
Like what Sam Claflin’s character in Me Before You uttered, “Live boldly. Push yourself. Don’t settle.”
Do things to fire up yourself
It’s easier said than done, but it’s worth a shot. Our brains, at times, are fiddled with lack of happy neurons (serotonin), dragging our moods down. However, there are little things that we can do to uplift it.
If you’re a staff writer:
- Break the ice with your co-workers. Never undermine the power of little chitchats and giggles in renewal of your perspectives.
- Stick extrinsic and intrinsic motivation like glue. Still remember that ecstatic moment when you were hired? Rekindle that. Pay back the trust your employer bestowed upon you since day one.
- Take short, revitalising breathers. When you can’t muster ideas and motivation, don’t force the issue. Breathe slowly. Shrug off any negative thoughts that hinder you from starting. You can opt to close your monitor for a bit, and meditate.
- Simply remember what’s at stake. It could mean the whole world to you: your job, appraisal, employer review, and career advancement. Your yardstick will always be based on the words you inscribe, so better work your way there.
If you’re a home-based freelance or book writer:
- Diversion is key. I experienced working from home. Isolation and inescapable family matters are what hampered my productivity. Unlike the office theme, you’re not endowed with competitive comrades that push you or the best environment to work on. Hence, exercise, going out, and anything that takes your mind away from the four corners of your writing room are all essential.
- Get some sunlight. Numerous researches have proven that sunlight exposure trigger the release of serotonin. This neurotransmitter is a ‘good feel’ hormone that boosts mood and improves focus.
- Change of scenery. Not all home-based writers can work with their laptops on their beds, or on the dining table. There has to be a feasible working environment that lets you work with the least amount of distraction. Getting bored? Do some variations. I’m not encouraging you to work on top of your house roof though.
- Be goal-oriented. With all the distractions present at home, you need to always be reminded of your daily and long-term goals. The simplest way to do it? Write it on a piece of paper and stick it on the most noticeable part of your house. My mantra? “I only fear never trying.”
On an article entitled “Twelve Major Benefits for Being Well Organized According to Your Strategic Thinking Business Coach,” the first five benefits are paraphrased as:
- It gets you more focused on what you want to achieve.
- Your productivity is enhanced.
- You will be more effective in managing your time.
- You will finish work in a more economical way.
- Stress levels and clutter in your workspace are significantly reduced.
What exactly being organized in writing is? We’re way past the era of crumpled paper drafts and chaotic drawers. It’s all digital now, so this means that word processors, editing applications, and files should be properly sorted out.
If you’re a home-based writer, make sure that your laptop, drinks, information resources are all within near space. You can relate with me on how difficult it is when they’re nowhere to be found. Just the mere thought of having to climb upstairs to fetch and open the laptop can drain out your will.
A desktop bombarded with confusing file names (e.g., Work1, Work2, Work3, etc.) eats up unnecessary time and is just frustrating by nature. Doing simple tech tweaks save you from those.
As a wrap-up, every writer gets the temptation of slacking off. You could afford those especially when you’ve grown weary and ran out of insightful ideas. However, ensure that those are accounted for in your progress chart. Delays and incomplete submissions surely take a toll on your reputation. Nevertheless, there are innumerable steps to combat laziness particularly ones we’ve tackled.
Let’s all have a happier – and more productive – new year!
Patrick works as a contributor at EasyTwist. He is a former editor of a small town newspaper publishing. He is an avid fan of social media, and runs his own page for writing enthusiasts for his college. With the rising clamor for healthy living, Patrick immersed himself with water sports. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook to learn more.
Photos: Flickr, Patrick M. Greene