12 Ways To Kick Procrastination Up The Absolute Bum

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Ugghhhhh doing actual writing? Ew. Not for me thanks, I’m a writer. Fruiting about on the internets and cleaning the skirting boards, that’s the writer’s life for me. Words? Sounds like a problem for future me.

Gif of a cartoon woman saying "It's been on my to do list." Another woman looks shocked and says "For 13 years?"

Except, future me’s getting sick of present me’s shenanigans, so I rounded up a group of writers to give me their bestest tips that help them focus on getting words actually literally written.

Here’s their advice:

1. Find a good influence

“If I get stuck, I read someone else’s work that has the tone and quality of writing I aspire to. Sooner or later I am able to put it aside and return to my own work.”

— Zara Shams, writer & editor

2. Look to your purse strings

Bills. Take a look at them and before you know it the muse is back in the room!

— Sarah Scott, copywriter

3. Set targets

“I give myself a word count to reach every day or every week so I can plot when I might be finished. Also, you need to work out the time of day when you’re most productive and be strict about sitting down at the same time each day, then put a do not disturb sign on the door!”

— Anna Martin, author & editor

Gif of Spongebob holind up a piece of paper and saying "now let's see how it looks so far." On the paper is the word 'the' in ornate writing.

4. Model good behaviour

“I’ve started doing a thing where I have my book/kindle next to me and if I find myself switching tabs or fucking about online I have to read a chapter of the book instead. It’s like positive reinforcement punishment. I also do it when the kids say they’re bored and I say ‘read a fucking book’ and they go mehhhhh and then I read a chapter to model good behaviour.”

— Jo Gatford, author & WHQ founder

5. Pace yourself

“Set reasonable goals. For example: writing half of an article on one day and the rest on another. Also, do take breaks as and when you need to.”

Kelle Salle, writer & blogger

6. Show up

“Having some kind of regular practice makes way for ideas when they come. Write with other people. Have everything you need to write with/on accessible.”

— Claire Pierce, facilitator, coach & writer

7. Prioritise self-care

“Clear the mind, meditate, go for a walk, etc. Self-care like this recharges your batteries so you have all the energy and motivation to get started and get sh*t done.

Feedback from others on your work can also help start taking action asap. On the other hand, feedback from the wrong people can trigger procrastination. So know who you are and whose opinion matters to you.

Also, telling yourself that you are good enough, trusting your skills and abilities will allow you to be productive as you have the confidence and want to show your work, rather than hide behind procrastination.”

— Andrea Siegel, Writer & content creator

Gif of Moira from Schitt's Creek saying "focus on your critical self-care"

8. Don’t kill the tree!

“I use the Forest app a lot. If you set it to deep focus and you use your phone/internet the tree dies.”

— Veronique Kootstra, writer & WHQ Rep

9. A change of scenery

“Definitely have a break from whatever is stopping you from writing (the four walls, the screen etc). Get outdoors, do something new and different, anything that takes your mind off what you’re worrying about. For example, when I’ve got to write a story I’m finding really tough, I’ll take a looong walk and maybe a tea/coffee to really enjoy some peace then see if I can re-focus.”

— Nabihah Parkar, digital journalist

10. Limber up

“Start writing SOMETHING. It might not even be remotely linked to what you need to do but that free-flowing expression can often help to just limber up the joints and progress into action on what you actually need to do. I recently was reminded ‘motivation doesn’t create action, action creates motivation’ and this is proving true for me more and more each day.

— Narah Millanaise, writer

Gif of a man and a woman limbering up with stretches

11. Write about your procrastination

“When I was doing my PhD I used to keep a procrastination diary. When I was writing, and other things I wanted to do popped into my head, I’d write them down in the diary and keep on writing and they made for quite amusing re-reading.”

— Melissa Reid, writer & WHQ Rep

12. Maximise your ‘dead time’

“Place a notepad by the kettle or microwave, whichever you use most. Each time you switch them on, use this ‘dead time’ to note down some ideas. Where realistic, build in time to procrastinate. For example, give yourself an hour at the start of your working day to deal with distractions such as loading the dishwasher, emptying the bins, clearing your workspace.

Personally, I think procrastination like this leads to inspiration. By doing these little things, you are getting into a mindset rather than coming at it cold.”

— Saffron Swansborough, writer & lecturer

Gif of a woman saying "I'm looking for a positive attitude"

There you go: 12 productive ways to sidestep your procrastination and make future-you proud! Now turn off the WiFi and get back to it…


What next?

READ THIS:
5 Reasons You Need To Stop Reading About Creativity And Actually Get On With Being Creative ahem ahem ahem

DO THIS:
Oooh there are so many arse-kicking WHQ courses to help you get going, like 7 Ideas in 7 Days, Couch to 5K Words, or 14 Days to a Solid Writing Habit! Pick one and DO IT!

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Poppy O'Neill

Poppy O'Neill

Poppy does lots behind the scenes at Writers’ HQ. She also writes nonfiction books about mental health for children and adults and reads entries for NYC Midnight. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester, for which she won the Kate Betts Memorial Prize. She lives in Sussex with her wife, two children, two cats and a dog.
A happy woman sitting on a green sofa with a laptop. Lovely kitchen in the background. I'd be happy too tbh

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