Why do some writers torture themselves with procrastination? Some writers fear failure, and you can’t fail at something you aren’t doing. But not writing at all is also a failure, so then guilt sets in, and there’s nothing worse than a guilt-wracked, procrastinating writer.
Short-term interests, such as steam cleaning the carpet, straightening the linen closet and pulling weeds, trump long-term interests, especially when those long term interests are a little vague, or might take years to finish. We make ourselves feel guilty over an unswept kitchen floor instead. It’s easier. We trick ourselves into feeling productive when we’re really practicing avoidance. All the while, a little voice says “you really should be writing.”
Writing is what you were meant to do. You owe it to yourself to do it.
I like the idea of giving yourself arbitrary limits, similar to NaNoWriMo. You committed, now you must finish. The brilliance about NaNoWriMo is that it’s not open-ended—in fact, the time frame is extremely short. Even though a novel that’s written in one month may need a lot of work to be shaped into something actually publishable, the good thing is at least you have something to work with.
If you aren’t into NaNoWriMo, try a trick that works for procrastination in general: break a large task into a series of smaller ones. Commit to writing one scene at a time instead of focusing on the looming “novel.” Stop revising chapter one and move on to chapter two, instead of worrying about three and four. Commit to writing xxx amount of words a day. Give yourself a deadline, any deadline, write it down, and commit. It takes discipline.
But if you don’t start, now, today, what will you have tomorrow? Another day gone.
I hope that doesn’t make you feel guilty, but doesn’t everyone want a better tomorrow? Do what it takes!