Procrastinating on Your Romance Novel? 7 Baby Steps You Can Take Today
As a writer, procrastination is a dangerous thing. The goal is to engage with your novel, your work in progress, daily. When you take time away, the motivation, the excitement, and the story start to slip away as well.
I understand procrastination. It happens to me every time I near the end of a story. Pushing through it doesn’t require large goals or entire days chained to your desk. In fact, tiny steps are actually better. They’re certainly easier. If you keep these steps in mind before you get started on any writing project, you’ll be able to stop procrastination before it takes hold.
- Acknowledge the Fear – Realize that most procrastination is rooted in fear. Mine certainly is. Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of not being good enough. Many people get so tied up in perfection that they can’t finish anything and never succeed, so that fear becomes self-perpetuating and never-ending. Acknowledge that you’re afraid and own it. But set it aside and work through it. If you can let go of judgment and fear as you work through the tasks, you’ll be able to end procrastination.
- Break Up the Project – Your book is a collection of pages, scenes, paragraphs, sentences, and ultimately words. It’s also a collection of steps. You can work through procrastination by working on a sentence, writing a paragraph, or roughing out a scene. You’re not sitting down to write the novel, you’re writing a small part of it. Wrap your brain around that concept and let go of the “whole book” mindset. It’s too much.
- Just Get Started – You may not realize it’s that easy, but it is. Our minds change focus when we get started. It’s like that workout you don’t want to do; in the middle of it, you’re perfectly fine with it. And of course, when it’s over, you’re satisfied that you did it. It’s the same with any work that you don’t want to do. Get started, and someplace in the middle you’ll feel differently.
- Talk About It publicly – Social media is great for this. Just announce on Twitter or Facebook to your friends, or a special group, that you’re writing five pages or that you’re working on a kissing scene right now and will be for the next 90 minutes. Telling people you’re doing it will help you actually do it. You hold yourself accountable. Use the hashtag #amwriting and start connecting with other writers.
- Take Breaks – Get up from your writing desk every hour or so and walk. Move your body and take good care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and drink plenty of water no matter what you’re doing. It will help keep your mind clear and your body healthy. It’ll be easier to come back to that chapter or that revision if you are clear headed and healthy.
- Look for Accountability – If you are having more problems, be sure to find an accountability partner. You can pay for that in a life coach, or writing coach, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member to help you break your pattern of procrastination. Writing groups are excellent for this. There are online groups you can join or local groups that meet face to face. Passionate Ink is an online romance writing group for erotica authors. They’re very supportive.
- Reward Yourself – Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. Work in ways to reward yourself that are healthy. If you finish a huge project on time, get a massage or go to a good movie. Have some fun.
Procrastination doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your romance writing goals. You can control the fear and work through the challenges by taking small steps, planning for procrastination, and pushing yourself just a little bit harder.