Avoiding writing and writing procrastination are maybe the biggest obstacles to your success as a writer. The answer? Accountability.
If I’m held accountable for something a strange thing happens. I do it. Take Weight Watchers. I do the program on my own, but when I get into the danger zone of not fitting in my jeans, I sign up and go to meetings. I get serious. Instead of meandering to my goal, I get there and fit into my jeans once more. Or running. If I’m signed up for a race, I get out and train every day. Writing is much the same way. When I am under a deadline for someone else—whether an article or complete book—I write.
An unspecific intention to write (I will write more, I’ll write everyday, I will make time for writing…) often falls to the wayside. More often instead of writing, you’ll do the laundry, surf the internet, watch television (hey, I write fiction—watching the next episode of Downton Abbey is really research, right?) There are always things to do other than write. When you are held accountable outside of yourself for writing, you’ll be more apt to make time to do it. Accountability doesn’t have to be a scary word. In this case it’s a good thing that will work for you.
Ways to stop avoiding writing and writing procrastination
- Hook up with a critique or writing group. (For more on this, see Writing Critique Groups.) The internet can be a good place and you can be from anywhere to join. Many times writing associations will have critique groups in your area. Can’t find one? What about making one yourself? Go to your local library and see if there are any writing groups. If not, ask them if you can post a notice to begin one. Even if you start small your group will grow in time.
- Plan a write-in at the library or local coffee shop or restaurant. Post notices and connect with other writers in your area.
- Find a writing partner, someone from the group you formed or a writer you already know. You can also find people looking to partner online. If you are a poet, hook up with a fiction writer. Non-fiction your thing? Write with a fiction writer or poet. In addition to accountability, you’ll learn something new to enrich your own writing.
- Speaking of learning, take a writing class. There are plenty around. Nothing will make you write like a deadline for class and in addition to learning something new, you’ll meet other writers.
- Not ready to share your writing? Find an accountability partner. Set goals, check in and cheerlead for each other. Meet for lunch and make it fun. Or, you can do the same thing with e-mail and keep in touch with a far-away friend.
To stop avoiding writing and writing procrastination, become an active, social writer. The side effect is learning, good times, sharing, and bonding with people you know or have yet to meet. And the main point is that you will become a much more productive writer without even trying.
Kathy Steffen is an award-winning novelist and author of the “Spirit of the River Series:” “First, There is a River,” “Jasper Mountain,” and “Theater of Illusion,” available online and in bookstores everywhere. Additionally, Kathy is also published in short fiction and pens a monthly writing column, “Between the Lines.” She writes from a log home in the woods of southwestern Wisconsin that she shares with her husband and three cats. Find out more at www.kathysteffen.com“