The Things Procrastinators Fear

By Jennifer Blanchard

Fear, according to Dictionary.com, is: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined.”

Fear can be real OR imagined. When it comes to the things that procrastinating writers fear, it’s imagined.

In fact, someone once said FEAR stands for: False Expectations Appearing Real.

So why, if procrastinators’ fears are false, do they still hold them back?

Because procrastinators truly believe the fear is real.

Procrastinators fear many things, but there are 4 that really stand out as the main fears that feed all the rest:

Now you may have read the above and felt a little angered. You don’t procrastinate because you fear success (or failure or rejection or not being good enough)! You procrastinate because you “don’t have time to write” or because you “are so tired from working all day you just can’t write.”

I’m here to be a little in-your-face and say that those excuses (not having time, being too tired, etc) are just that–excuses. And behind those excuses is a little 4-letter word: Fear.

To better explain it, read this awesome Copyblogger post called, “The Nasty Four-Letter Word That Keeps You From Writing.”

The good news about all this is everyone has fear inside them; and there’s something you can do about it!

Over the next 4 Tuesdays, I’m going to bring you in-depth posts on fear–covering the 4 main things writers fears (mentioned above), and giving tips on how to write despite your fears.

For now, use the Copyblogger post as a way to begin gauging your fears. Next time you avoid writing, take a second to think about the real reason behind why you didn’t write–fear.

What are your writing fears? Which of the 4 main fears most stops you from getting your writing done?

3 Reasons You Should Write Morning Pages

By Jennifer Blanchard

Many procrastinating writers say the reason they can’t write is because they have writer’s block. Any time they sit down to write, they can’t. Nothing comes to them. Their minds are blank.

Julia Cameron, creator of the international bestseller, The Artist Way, has come up with a very effective “tool” for overcoming writer’s block: Morning Pages.

What are Morning Pages, you ask?

“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand writing, strictly stream-of-consciousness,” Cameron says.

That means, whatever pops in your head, you write down: “I just woke up and I’m really irritated I have to write these pages. My hand hurts. I need my computer. I don’t want to do this. Oh, I think I have a meeting this morning. Shoot! I need to check my calendar”…You get the picture.

And the best part is, there is no right or wrong way to do your Morning Pages.

“These daily meanderings are not meant to be art,” Cameron says. “Or even writing…[Morning] Pages are meant to be, simply, the act of moving the hand across the page and writing down whatever comes to mind. Nothing is too petty, too silly, too stupid, or too weird to be included.”

 Now you may be thinking, “No way. I’m not a morning person.” Or “I’ll be late for work if I do this.” But before you get negative about it, here are 3 reasons why you should write Morning Pages:

  • They Teach You to Ignore Your Inner Editor–Since there’s no right or wrong way to write your Morning Pages, you don’t have to worry about your inner editor trying to criticize you. All you have to think about is getting three pages written. That’s it. No judgment.
  • They Can ‘Unblock’ You–“All that angry, whiny, petty stuff that you write down in the morning stands between you and your creativity,” Cameron says. “Worrying about the job, the laundry, the funny knock in the car, the weird look in your lover’s eye–this stuff eddies through our subconscious and muddies our days. Get it on the page.”As you consistently write your Morning Pages, you’ll start to notice you are able to once again come up with ideas for your writing.  Your “writer’s block” won’t be a problem anymore.
  • They Get You to the “Other Side”–“Morning Pages do get us to the other side: the other side of our fear, of our negativity, of our moods,” Cameron says.

Simply put, Morning Pages help you get over the stuff that keeps you “blocked” and procrastinating on your writing–fear, problems, issues, anger, anxiety, worry, etc.

If you’re ready to give Morning Pages a go, here’s how to get started:

  • Place a notebook and pen/pencil by your bed.
  • First thing when you wake up in the morning, grab your notebook and write 3 pages. Whatever comes to your mind.
  • Don’t do anything else until you write your pages. In fact, you might as well just sit in bed and write them.
  • Once you’ve finished three pages, close your notebook and get started with your day.

It’s that simple. And doing them every day will yield amazing results.

Have you ever done Morning Pages before? If yes, how did they work out for you? If no, are you considering starting to write them?

How To Be A Better Writer

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of writing (grammar, vocabulary, all the elements of style), you’re already on track to becoming a better writer. And there are lots of other things that you can do to continue on that path. Things like writing every day, reading good writing and taking a writing course.

It’s important to continually improve your writing in whatever way makes sense for you. The harder you’re willing to work, the better writer you’ll be.

To help you out, here are some can’t-miss article about becoming a better writer. Read a couple and try some of the tips out:

And be sure to come back and let us know how you did.

Why You Should Get Specific With Your Writing Goals, and How To Do It


By Jennifer Blanchard

When a marathon is being planned, one of the most important steps in the process is deciding on an end point. Runners need to know how far they have to run and where they will end up when the race is finished.

The same thing goes for your writing.

In order to fully commit to your writing, you first need to know what your goals are.

What are you trying to accomplish?

  • Do you want to finish a novel?
  • Do you want to start a novel?
  • Are you trying to write a screenplay?
  • Do you want to start submitting your short stories to literary magazine competitions?
  • Are you ready to try publication?

Spend some time really thinking about what you want to achieve with your writing. Here are some steps to get you started:

  1. Make a List–Write down all the writing goals you want to achieve in your career. Anything goes at this point in the goal-setting process.
  • Narrow It Down–Once you’ve written down all your goals, you want to take a look at the list and narrow it down. Which goals are long-term? Which goals can you achieve immediately (such as writing daily)?
  • Choose 1 or 2 Goals–It’s easy to get overwhelmed with your writing goals if you try to accomplish too many at once. It’s best to choose 1 or 2 of the goals from your list to achieve first. Once you reach that finish line, then you can choose a couple more goals from your list.

The reason why it’s important to be specific with your goals is so you know exactly what you are working toward. It’s much easier to procrastinate on your writing when you have no idea what your end goal is.

But when you have a clear plan, and a bigger picture in mind, you’ll be more likely to actually sit down and write.

Also, having an end-goal in mind will not only motivate you, but will give you a reason why you should sit down and write every time you feel like procrastinating.

My current wrting goal is to start and finish my second novel. What are your writing goals?

Stop Procrastinating In 5 Simple Steps

By Jennifer Blanchard

Over and over writers say that they want to learn how to stop procrastinating. So here are 5 steps that you can take:

  1. Sit down in front of your computer.
  2. Open a Word document.
  3. Place your fingers on your keyboard.
  4. Start typing.
  5. Don’t stop ’til you’ve written at least 500 to 1,000 words.

Yes. It’s really that simple.

Script Frenzy Starts April 1

By Jennifer Blanchard

On April 1st, writers all over the world are starting day one of Script Frenzy.

What is Script Frenzy, you ask?

“Script Frenzy is an international writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material in the month of April,” according to the Script Frenzy Web site.

Here are the rules:

  • 100 Scripted Pages–You have 30 days, from April 1 at 12 a.m. until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, to write 100 pages of an original script.
  • You Must Verify Your Total–Before midnight on May 1, you have to login to the Script Frenzy Web site and submit your text. (It’s exactly the same as NaNoWriMo, for those of you familiar with it.)
  • You have to Wait to Start–You have to wait until midnight on April 1 to start. No starting early. Everyone has the same amount of time. That’s part of the challenge.
  • Write Anything Scripted–You are allowed to write screenplays, stage plays, TV shows, short films, comic book or graphic novel scripts, adaptations of novels or any other type of script you can think of.
  • Grab a Friend–You can choose to write your script alone, or with a partner. (If you choose to write with a partner you will write toward the 100-page goal together.)

If you want more details, check out the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Challenges like this are great for people who procrastinate because it forces you to really focus and get writing done. (And for an extra kick, try using the Write or Die productivity tool in Kamikaze mode!)

Write Or Die: A Free Tool for Procrastinating Writers


By Jennifer Blanchard

I was recently introduced to an awesome writing productivity tool from a follower on Twitter (@armselig). The tool is called “Write or Die,” which is “a Web application that encourages writing by punishing the tendency to avoid writing. Start typing in the box. As long as you keep typing, you’re fine, but once you stop typing, you have a grace period of a certain number of seconds and then there are consequences,” according to the tool’s creator, Dr. Wicked.

Here’s how “Write or Die” works:

  • There are 3 modes: Gentle, Normal and Kamikaze.
  • In Gentle Mode, when you stop writing, you will get “writing reminders” that pop up on your screen reminding you to keep writing until your time limit is up/you have hit your word count.
  • In Normal Mode, when you stop writing, you’ll hear a very annoying noise, which will only go away if you keep writing.
  • In Kamikaze Mode, when you stop writing, it gives you a few seconds and then it starts deleting your words. To keep it from deleting everything, you have to keep writing.
  • Once you choose your word count/time limit, mode and how “forgiving” you want the tool to be, you’re off and writing.

Now before you try out this tool, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • This is for productivity ONLY—Do not expect to write anything even remotely close to The Great Gatsby or Grapes of Wrath just by using this tool. This tool is not here to make you a better writer. It’s here to make you write, period. (You can worry about editing what you’ve written after you’ve written it!)
  • Kamikaze mode is the BY FAR the best mode to use—Since it deletes your writing if you stop for more than a few seconds, you are forced to keep writing in order to not get anything deleted. If you are serious about getting writing done, this is the mode for you.
  • If you’re attempting this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge, Write or Die will easily help you reach your daily word count (of 1667 words).
  • Remember to select all the text you wrote and copy it—There is no way to save your text using this tool, and once you navigate away from the page, everything you’ve written is gone. That’s why you need to copy what you wrote and paste it into a Word document in order to save it.
By using this writing productivity tool, you are learning to shut off your inner editor and just getting writing done. And that, Procrastinating Writers, is what it truly takes to be a successful writer.

Why Every Writer Needs A Website


By Jennifer Blanchard

If you ever plan to turn your written talent into dollars, you need to market yourself. With the wide-spread availability of the Internet everywhere from computers to cell phones to game systems, writers need to be accessible to their readers (and potential readers) at a moment’s notice.

One way to do this is to have a Web site.

A Web site:

  • Makes a writer look professional—If you’re ever going to make any money from your writing, you need to appear as professional as possible to the public.
  • Is a simple marketing tool—Anyone can create a basic Website. Especially these days when you can use templates and click-to-publish Web programs.
  • Can serve as a writer’s portfolio—Imagine your writing being available to prospective customers/readers 24/7/365.

When it comes to creating your author Web site, you have a couple of options: a blog—where you use a site such as Blogger.com or WordPress.com to create a blog that spotlights your writing—or buying a domain name and building a Web site using pre-made templates.

Also, it’s important to remember, if you are writing under a pen name/writing alias, you should create the Web site for your alias, not for yourself.

At a minimum, your Web site should have the following pages:

  • Home page—Use this page to welcome and introduce people to your site.
  • Samples of your writing—Include at least 2-3 pieces samples. Create separate pages writing in different categories, such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry.
  • About the Author—Include your full bio and a professional photo of yourself.
  • Contact the Author—Include your E-mail address. Don’t include your address and phone number. You can exchange additional information with the person who contacts you later if necessary.

How To Overcome Writing Rejection

By Jennifer Blanchard

Rejection is a part of life. And one place you’re almost guaranteed to run into rejection is when you’re trying to get your writing published.

Rejection.

Yes, I said it.

And if you’re planning on making a career in writing and publishing, you better plan on facing the facts: Your writing will be rejected (Note: I said your writing would be rejected, not you. You are fabulous!). Every writer experiences rejection. It’s the nature of the business.

Here’s how to overcome writing rejection:

  1. Retain Absolute Faith–Step one to putting your writing out there is you have to believe in yourself and your writing. (And if you don’t, you shouldn’t be putting your work out there until you do.) Believing is 90 percent of being successful.
  • Confront the Brutal Facts–You got rejected, that’s it. That doesn’t mean anything. You are still a good writer. Your writing is still worthy of being sent to magazines and publishers.
  • Act!–Keep trying. Keep sending your work out. Keep writing.

As Thomas Jefferson said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

So, Procrastinating Writers…how do you deal with writing rejection?

Why You Should Start Your Own Blog

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’re looking for a way to increase your writing clips, while also overcoming your procrastination, blogging may be your answer.

Blogging has been around for years, but it’s starting to rev-up to full speed now. In fact, according to the Technorati 2008 State of the Blogosphere report, 77 percent of active Internet users read blogs. This is a HUGE percentage, and also a great opportunity for you to create a blog and attract some of these blog readers.

Now you may be thinking: “Why should I blog? And especially, why should I blog when I’m not making any money from it?” So here are my reasons for why you should blog:

  • It will help you become a better writer–With writing (as with many other things), you get better the more you practice. And what better way to practice than by writing short blog posts every couple days?
  • You can blog about any topic under the sun–Everyone has topics they would consider themselves “experts” in. For me, it’s writing (thou I have tons of hobbies that I would also consider myself an expert in). For you, it might be baseball or cooking or swimming or fashion or fill-in-the-blank. Creating a blog is an excellent way to spotlight your knowledge of a particular subject.And for you Procrastinating Writers, blogging about a topic that you’re passionate about will help keep you from procrastinating.
  • You can create a blog for free–Take, for one, Blogger.com, which Procrastinating Writers is hosted on. They offer users the ability to easily write, publish and create a professional-looking blog. Another good option is WordPress.com.
  • It’s a rewarding experience–Blogging can be a very rewarding experience, both professionally and personally. Professionally, it can help you fine-tune your writing skills, allow you to put your writing out there for the world to read and help you define what could eventually turn in to a full-time gig if you work hard enough at it.Personally, having a blog can help you feel more fulfilled in life, especially when you start gaining a readership.

When I started Procrastinating Writers in March of last year, I didn’t even really know what my goal was other than I just needed a place to spill the thoughts that were consuming my mind. But what I ended up getting was something that was SO much better than just a creative outlet.

I started to find a purpose for this blog. I started to realize there are TONS of writers out there who procrastinate, and I wanted to help them (and in turn, help myself) stop procrastinating and get their writing done!

From creating this blog, I also:

  • Found a creative outlet; a place to just get things out that were inside me
  • Have something to look forward to every week
  • Developed stronger writing skills; especially writing for the Web, which is very different
  • Created a readership
  • Now have 5 followers
  • Started getting COMMENTS!!
  • Began a conversation on why writers procrastinate
  • Discovered a yet-untapped niche (writers who procrastinate!)
  • Learned how to stick with a project (FINALLY!), even if it doesn’t take off right away
  • Finished writing my first novel
  • Decided that I’d love to do this for a living

These are only a few of the things that I get out of writing this blog. And you’ll get many of the same things and more if you start a blog as well.

Share With Us

So…how many of you Procrastinating Writers out there have blogs? And if you don’t have one, do you think you might want to start one? What topics do you write about/would you like to write about?