How I Got Here- Procrastination Habit – Beat Procrastination – Every Day
Hello Lovelies, and welcome back to the blog. I’ve been talking this month about NaNoWriMo, or the National Novel Writing Month. Even in years where I have no specific project or aren’t wholly committed to the challenge, I often still love talking about my experiences with the entire NaNoWriMo month. This week, I want to talk about something that I’ve been experiencing this week as the writing has gotten difficult and I finished my draft of a children’s novel early and before hitting 50,000 words. Specifically, I want to talk about that little insidious habit we all get into called procrastination and how I’m getting myself out of it. Let’s get started.
How I Got Here
Procrastination is that thing we all do on a small or large scale where we put something off that we know we should be doing. In my case, I finished the second draft rewrite of the first book in my children’s science fiction novel, Eternal Inflation, and it came in at close to 35,000 words. While I absolutely celebrated with a night of dinner with close friends, I had a problem. NaNoWriMo’s goal is to get to 50,000 words before the end of November in order to collect the winner goodies.
The Habit of Procrastination
Our brains only have three responses to stress–fight, flight, or freeze–procrastination can be thought of as the freeze response. In the words of the incredible Mel Robbins, “Procrastinating is a HABIT. You beat procrastination the same way you break any bad habit- through interrupting old patterns and practicing new ones.”
This is actually good news, because it means that you have a pattern that’s changeable. I want to say here that the sooner you catch it, the better, and the less likely it is to make the deep ruts in your mind that an age-old pattern has already had the chance to make. Even if you have those deep set bad patterns, you can still change them because harmful habits can always still be replaced with better ones.
How to Beat Procrastination
So now you want to know how. There are actually ways backed by science that can help you move through procrastination.
- Identify what’s stressing you out about the situation. For me, I already knew that I didn’t plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I didn’t think I’d finish the draft this month. This is a trilogy and I do have a second and a third book to rewrite, but neither of those books were outlined because I hadn’t finished rewriting the first book and didn’t want to make more work for myself in case I changed something in the first book. For several days I was actually fine because I was ahead of my word count, but after that, I was going to have to figure something out.
- Make movement on the thing that you’re procrastinating for just 1 minute. The last thing I wanted to do was work on the second book without an outline. I also didn’t want to give up on the winner goodies when I was more than halfway there, and since I’ve been looking at one of the programs and could really use the extra discount. Either I start working on a completely different project that was already outlined, something I didn’t have the headspace for, or I take my few days of buffer and outline the next novel. It took all of that and more. I have even fallen behind in week 3, but now I know where book 2 is going.
- Keep it up. All the brain science says that once you start something, 80% of the time, you’ll keep going. Replacing the habit of procrastination is actually as easy as removing the barrier to starting and making the starting point as easy as possible. For more on this, I highly recommend the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. Now that I know where book 2 is going, I’ve been working on that pretty steadily and my word count continues to grow. I’ll make more than 40,000 words today, and I’ll probably win NaNoWriMo this year.
How You Can Use This Every Day
Here are some ways you can make the barrier to entry super easy:
- Want to eat healthier snacks? Put a bowl of fruit (oranges, for example) on the counter.
- Want to make sure you go for a run or get on the treadmill first thing in the morning? Set your shoes and exercise clothes out the night before.
- Want to get exercise in every single day? Do a bodyweight workout every day for the time it takes your pot of coffee or tea to brew.
- Want to get all your laundry folded, or dishes washed? Fold or wash for 5 minutes at a time. Literally set a timer or put one song on. You’re allowed to walk away when it’s done.
- Want to get an entire book edited? Edit one chapter. Or one page. One paragraph.
- Want to write an entire book? Write 250 words. Write one scene. Write one chapter.
The possibilities are actually endless. You can choose how low the bar is, because the bar is not too low if that’s what gets you to move. I used to have to keep a small jar of disposable flossers in every room to remind me to floss my teeth, or I wouldn’t do it. Now just having the floss in the bathroom is enough because the habit is established. If calling for a taxi is what gets you to your therapist on time, then do that, even if you have your own car. Do what you need to do to get the habit established, and modify it once it is.
Next week, we are going to start wrapping up the year’s chat about genre. We’ll be talking about things that aren’t genre, so I hope you continue to write all the words for NaNoWriMo and we’ll see you here in December to wrap up our Year of Genre.
- How do you prepare for NaNoWriMo season?
- Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Why or why not?
- Have you participated in NaNoWriMo in years before, and if so, what was your favorite part of participating?
- What winner goodies are you most looking forward to nabbing this year?
- What writing questions would you like to have me answer in a blog post or podcast episode?
Leave your answers in the comments section for this post!