When I met up with Author, JJ Krzemien, in Portland earlier this month, we talked a lot about getting our writing done and being productive. And part of what we talked about was overcoming procrastination.
She wrote three novels in the past 12 months, which is incredibly productive! And I’ve written two and a half screenplays (I’m halfway through my third right now) over the past 12 months (also incredibly productive).
But there was a time when I was SUPER unproductive. There was a time when I was the Queen Procrastinating Writer. When I would put every single thing above my writing.
When things, like, washing dishes, getting groceries, doing laundry and cleaning my apartment were more of a priority for me than my writing was. And there was even the day it all came to a head, which I’ve talked about before.
It was a Saturday in early 2008. I had the entire day free to work on my writing. I had no one and nothing to distract me.
But first I decided that I had to clean my apartment, get groceries, do the dishes and wash my laundry. So I did all of that. And when I was done, there was nothing left to do except work on my writing.
But instead of doing that, I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom floor with a sponge (and I HATE cleaning).
That day, I came face-to-face with my procrastination. And it wasn’t pretty.
So I made a decision: I would figure out how to overcome my procrastination no matter what it took.
I was determined. And more than a decade later, here I am.
I no longer procrastinate on my writing. In fact, now I procrastinate on all the other stuff (cleaning, doing laundry, washing dishes, etc).
These days, I love waking up and knowing that I get to work on my screenplay(s). And JJ said the same thing about her novels.
That’s when it hit me… the true key to overcoming procrastination (aside from committing to developing and planning your story before you attempt to write it, which is also a key to overcoming procrastination): focus on the thing you don’t want to procrastinate on.
When I was forcing myself to write novels, I procrastinated all the time. I would still write, but not consistently or as often as I wanted to.
But once I gave myself permission to write screenplays? That procrastination just went away.
Because now I’m finally doing the thing I really want to be doing, and so there’s no need for me to procrastinate.
I LOVE writing screenplays. I LOVE being a storyteller. And now I’m getting to do both of those things every single day with total ease and joy and flow.
Now, writing and storytelling is fun for me.
So maybe the key to procrastination is really simple… just give yourself permission to do more of the thing that you don’t procrastinate on.
Maybe for you that’s writing poetry. Maybe it’s journaling. Maybe it’s writing novels (like JJ). Maybe it’s writing nonfiction. Or maybe it’s something else completely.
My point being, if you want to overcome your procrastination, it really does help to start with the thing that you don’t procrastinate on.
The less resistance you have, the more likely you’ll actually do it. And that’s a really freaking good thing.
I procrastinated on writing novels because my heart wasn’t really into it. I was “
But that’s just BS.
You don’t HAVE TO do anything. Ever.
As a writer, you have the freedom to decide what you love writing, and you can always choose to focus exclusively on that, at least for right now.
Having (almost) three screenplays under my belt has motivated me like nothing ever has before. I am LOVING my writing life right now. I am LIVING FOR the feeling of sitting down and seeing my script come to life a little more every day.
No procrastination anywhere in sight.
The same can be true for you. But first you have to:
- Give yourself permission to do the thing you really want to do
- Focus your time and energy on the writing stuff you don’t procr`astinate on
Maybe that sounds wrong. But it’s not.
If you love story planning and mapping out ideas or brainstorming, then for right now, focus on that. If you love journaling, focus on that. Whatever you love, just do it.
You may feel like you’re doing “something wrong” at first, but I bet after a while you’ll start to see that by not procrastinating–by sitting down and actually doing the thing you love to do every day–you’re building some serious momentum, some really great consistency and are more confident than ever before.
I love screenwriting. SO MUCH. I know it’s something I’ll always do.
By giving myself permission to focus on it; to do less of the other stuff so I can do more of this, it has not only allowed me to be seriously productive, but it has also inspired me to want to write another novel.
And this time around, I know I won’t procrastinate.