For Writers (And Everyone Else): 12 Tips on Overcoming Procrastination

These are from my notes on writing and are pulled from a bunch of books I read last summer. While the focus is how to overcome procrastination in writing, these principles can easily be adapted to be applicable for anyone, in about any context:

  1. “Almost all writers procrastinate.”
  2. Turn it into rehearsal.
  3. Lower your standards. Writers block is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance. Get rid of the standards that inhibit you, write, then raise your standards during revision.
  4. Just start typing.
  5. Adopt a daily routine. “Fluent writers prefer mornings.”
  6. Draft sooner. Avoid over research, which makes writing seem tougher. Write earlier in the process so you discover the information you need.
  7. Discount nothing.
  8. Limit self criticism in early drafts.
  9. Rewrite.
  10. Set the table (= pull everything together and get things ready; make short plan).
  11. Find a helper.
  12. Keep a daily record of accomplishment.

When you Get Stuck

  1. Just start writing. “Writing is the means to achieving the clarity of what you should write.”
  2. It’s OK if you just produce a few pages a day for the first several weeks. Things will snowball if you get momentum.
  • Roger Healey

    It might seem counterintuitive, but in my experience tips #3 and #4 are key. I’ve also found it to be true that as you write “…you discover the information that you need.” (#6)