It’s not the sitting down and typing that is difficult. Anyone can do that.
Writing everyday is hard. Writing is hard.
Procrastination is one of our strongest traits as humans.
If anyone knows procrastination (and how to cure manage it) it’s Steven Pressfield.
Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint or an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what resistance is.
He is the author of this amazing book which describes procrastination as Resistance and what you can do to conquer it.
How many times have you had that urgent thought that you need to mow the lawn, finish that presentation, write an article, get started on your new business idea, then actually got up and did it, right there, right then?
Not that often right?
But there is some simple things you can do to make sure you sit down and “do your work”, everyday.
Habits are harder to break so why not create one of writing?
You can see that every day, Pressfield sits down to write, he follows a habit. Lucky charms, clothes, trinkets, inspirational notes and artefacts. It’s all these things that can help you create a habit.
You don’t need lucky charms to pull off a decent piece of work, but having items in your routine will help build a habit.
Just preparing yourself before you sit down to do your work can help. Do you have power? Do you have a drink? Do you have your notes? If like me you write first thing in the morning, you can actually prep this stuff up the night before, so there is nothing in your way when you want to start.
For writing specific habit creation, you can sign up to Joe Bunting’s great blog to get Daily Prompts that will help nudge you to write.
Or do what I do and use LIFT and set a goal for what you want to do. Here is one of mine: “Write 250 words”
Get yourself on a streak and it’s even harder to give in to Resistance.
A Writing Checklist
Here is a simple checklist you can use as preparation to ward off “Resistance” and stay on task
Eat, but eat light. If you have seen this post, you will know how I start my day. Eating too much will make you sluggish and possibly less creative, but being hungry will be an even bigger distraction!
Music. Find some quiet (low volume) music and put on your headphones. This is usually conducive to getting “in the zone”. This is especially helpful if you are working in a coffee shop or have other erratic background noise. A few tips:
- If you these songs on your phone make sure the phone is on silent. You want to avoid those distracting FB or Gmail notifications while you write.
- I love heavy metal, but I also find that Mozart or something of that mental-stimulating ilk will keep those creative juices flowing. No audiobooks!
- Make sure you have a playlist that will not finish before your writing session is over. You don’t want to be tapping away at your phone fiddling with what to listen to.
Sit (or stand) comfortably. (<– A note to my wife – my birthday is coming up…)
Evernote. Totally personal preference here, if I trusted the WordPress browser saving more I would probably write my posts directly in there as Drafts. But for ease of use on any device, anytime, I keep all my writing and to-do’s in Evernote. Some quick tips:
- Set the default on font type, colour, and size to what you use in your blog or site. This way you can just copy paste straight into your posts
- Use the top of a note for collecting a to-do list (use checkboxes) of things you need to do for the post like find or create a feature image or images for the post, scheduling notes, marketing or promotion ideas and links, etc.
- Don’t stop writing to go researching – see shortcuts below
Shortcuts. There are countless resources out there explaining all sorts of shortcuts and hacks to every app and tool you could possibly use to make you a “power user”. The best shortcuts are those you create yourself that come naturally, then you can be assured you will remember them.
My ultimate anti-distraction shortcut is “Research: blah”. When I am writing and in the zone, my neurons are firing on a certain path. Ideas and connections are coming thick and fast and if I maintain that momentum a 1000 word article can come in less than 20 minutes.
Enter distraction. My brain will go to “get info on common problems to x? who was the guy that said y? what’s the fastest tool to complete a z?” Instead of jumping into the Google vortex use a shortcut like “Research: x, y, z” inline and save that thought for another time. That way you can keep on writing. You might even find you actually remember the name of y as you keep writing!
Time. I recently joined the 5 Club. Getting some me time is difficult with kids, work, stuff, but if there is any time of the day that you can pretty much guarantee is distraction-free, it’s 5am. Waking up early sounds hard especially on cold mornings, but this is simply the single most powerful productivity hack I have implemented in my life, ever. You might not be a morning person naturally, listening to two of the greatest productivity hackers here you will see that some people get their best writing done between midnight and 4am.
So find your best time and sit down and DO YOUR WORK!
Using this formula it is possible to churn out your daily word total, even an entire blog post, every day!
This formula is working for me. You could use it for anything you struggle with procrastination. Consistency will produce the desired results.
Do you have a writing formula or a getting-started-method that works for you?
What do you do?
Let us know in the comments below.