When I first started freelance writing I had an electric pencil sharpener. I loved putting a fine point on every pencil, and I had quite a few, before I’d settle down with my yellow legal tablet and begin to write. It was my warm-up exercise and probably took five minutes or so. Angela Booth has some potentially more productive warm-up ideas.
Although those five minutes helped me get started, they weren’t writing time.
A warm-up exercise is fine, but when it slips into writing avoidance, well that’s another problem. Here are some classic examples:
Endless research. Sure, you need to know the the facts and research often leads to surprises that spark additional ideas. But if you find yourself spending more than an hour or so on researching a 1,500 word article, or days and days or even weeks and months on arcane details for the yet to be written book or novel, you’re probably procrastinating.
Outlining over and over again. Outlining is not writing. It can be a help – I often create a list of things that I want to include in a blog post, and for large projects I’ve been known to use a simplified outline. Both help me get the writing done. When I get into what some call analysis-paralysis I know that I’m avoiding writing for some reason.
Trying to find the ‘perfect’ market. It’s one thing to use Writer’s Market or google to find two or three markets for an idea, and it’s another to find yourself several hours later still looking for exactly the right market. There isn’t one and as John Soares says “you need to know when to avoid perfectionism.”
Unending rewriting and editing. Yes, you need to do your best, and if you’re ever going to be successful you’ve got to quit writing and editing and get to submitting and/or marketing. The article 6 Ways Freelance Writers Can Quit Procrastinating may help.
Maybe it’s because we’re creative, but it seems to me there are innumerable things we can dream up to avoid actually putting words down on paper (well the screen), declaring a piece finished and getting it out the door. Anything that gets in the way of that is probably fear based – fear of rejection and/or fear that someone somewhere will disapprove.
Lori Widmer wrote a nifty piece called Fear Busting. If you’ve got any hesitancy at all about your writing, procrastinate just enough to read her post, then start writing!
How do you get the writing done?