Postponing Writing Procrastination – Is Perfectionism Your Friend?
If we tell the truth, procrastination and perfectionism are often related. I certainly can not cure you of perfectionism, but I can tell you it is not your friend as far as writing is concerned. Here are three tips to help keep your writing going – and to halt (or at least postpon) your writing procrastination.
- Perfection is not your friend .
There are no perfect books, perfect dissertations, perfect articles, perfect chapters. There are excellent books, dissertations, articles, chapters, poems, stories, and so forth. Go for excellence – and go for complete. If you're going for perfection you will NEVER get there and you will fail as a writer. Sorry to be mean, but it's true.
Stop yourself when you realize you are persevering on perfection. No one else can control this for you – even though they might want to.
2. Timers are your friends .
One of the best ways to beat back procrastination is to use timers. Depending on the day, depending on your mode of working, and depending on what you need to do, you will set a timer for a (duh) specified period of time. I like to use 35 minutes. It allows for 5 minutes of distracted behavior or running downstairs to get a cup of coffee (my office is in my house so I'm not running far that could explain why this exercise program is not working well. So, back to setting the timer and what you do while it is (figuratively, I hope) ticking.
You write. You do not check email. You do not straighten up your bookshelves. You do not answer the phone. You do not grade papers (that's when you REALLY know you're procrastinating your writing is if you choose to grade papers instead). For 10 minutes or 30 minutes or 45 minutes – even long you set your timer – you write. You may have to train yourself and build up a tolerance. It sounds crazy but I've had collections who have had to work up from 10 minutes because that was the longest that they could concentrate. If that's you, start with 10 minutes and then the next week, go to 15 minutes, and so on. You can do this.
3. Take one slice (bite) at a time . Authors Snead and Wycoff, in their book To Do, Doing, Done, talk about the idea of dividing projects into "hunks," "chunks," and "bites," using the notice about eating an elephant one bite at a time. Bites are defined as something that one person can do in a reasonable amount of time. Rethink your writing projects so that you have bites available for you to work on today and every day.
Taking just one bite of your writing is very different (and is quite tasty) compared to trying to gnaw through a humongous, looming, hulking, creature. The same holds true for silly to-do's such as:
a. Write book.
b. Write chapter.
c. Write policy and procedure manual.
d. Write marketing materials for new product line.
e. Write grant proposal.
These are silly because no one gets one of these done in a day and when we put them on a list that includes tasks such as "Call Bob," "fill up car with gas," then of course, we ignore them because they aren 't equivalent in size and commitment. Be smart.
So, which of these 3 ideas is the one you need to take heed of so you can also focus on your writing (and postpon writing procrastination)?