I was going to write this post months ago, but I kept putting it off. True story.
Most writers don’t need much help procrastinating. Many of us will do almost anything to avoid the actual task of writing. It’s amazing how many things can distract us from our WIP (work-in-progress) or our WMNP (work-making-no-progress). Still, there may be someone out there in Writerland who needs a few suggestions, so here’s a list of things that will help you avoid writing for a while:
- Read a SteveLaube.com blog post. (Congratulations! You nailed it.)
- Check email ONE MORE TIME.
- Clip your fingernails (bonus points for toenails).
- Cruise Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (lather, rinse, repeat).
- Research something unrelated to your WIP. (Hey, it may come in handy someday.)
- Clean out the kitty litter.
- Shop online for fun sticky notes.
- Clean the refrigerator.
- Call a friend you haven’t talked to in years.
- Straighten all of your paper clips.
- Order new paper clips since you ruined the ones you had.
- Rearrange your office furniture.
- Recreate a whole new filing system.
- Play with the dog. Or cat. Or dust bunnies under your desk.
Seriously, try a few. They work every time. In fact, you may have already done some of these. You may even have better go-to procrastination occupations (such as making up phrases like “procrastination occupations”); if you do, please share them in the comments.
However, since this blog is supposed to help people write and publish, I suppose I could also offer some “positive procrastination” tips. Because there are ways to avoid your WIP that nonetheless move you forward as a writer, stoking your creativity and getting you back to the keyboard refreshed and ready to write. I can think of seven that work for me:
Take a walk
W. Somerset Maugham was once greeted by a friend who saw him ambling in the countryside near his home: “Maugham! I thought you’d be writing.” Maugham replied, “I am.”
Grab a nap
Sometimes my thoughts (not to mention my eyes, though I just did, didn’t I?) get scrambled as I write. A short nap sometimes not only unscrambles things but also leads me to fresh insight or inspiration upon awaking.
Listen to the music
Listening—or singing along—to ten or fifteen minutes of Dvořák or Dylan can lift my spirits and recalibrate my heartbeat. Okay, so it’s hard to sing along to Dvořák, but you get the idea.
Doodle or mind map something
I work well on a keyboard but sometimes a pencil, marker, or fountain pen in hand provides a helpful distraction or valuable breakthrough.
Watch an online writers-conference session
Writers today have many online options to be inspired and instructed, such as the Christian Writers Institute, which offers excellent audio and video courses, books, and podcasts.
Find silence and solitude
For decades, I’ve taken an extended prayer retreat every year, and I’m always amazed at the creativity and productivity that flow from that silence and solitude. Try it, even for an hour or two; get alone and see what silence and freedom from external stimuli can coax from you.
I forget from time to time how much prayer does for my productivity. It doesn’t even have to be prayer about my writing, though it often is—and it always makes me wonder why I would ever try to write without having prayed.
I think these seven procrastination tips are much better than the previous list. How about you? Do you procrastinate? Do you have a few go-to “procrastination occupations?” Do you practice “positive procrastination?” Tell us all about it in the comments.