Overcoming Writer’s Procrastination

There are tons of articles on the internet that tell authors how to overcome writer’s block, but you won’t find many that deal with writer’s procrastination. After all, writer’s procrastination isn’t fueled by the same emotion, belief or fear that fuels normal procrastination. WP (writer’s procrastination) is often fueled by:

  1. Lack of knowledge: Author is writing a book on a subject that the author is not too knowledgeable about. This often happens when the author is more passionate about writing a book than he or she is about helping others.
  2. Lack of accountability: More often than not, authors need accountability. This is because writing is a journey within itself, and authors have to mentally journey through their experiences, their doctrinal beliefs, the opinions of others and the fears that plague most authors like the fear of teaching erroneously, the fear of offending their loved ones, the fear of sounding intellectually inferior to their peers and so on. Accountability helps to address these fears, all the while, reminding the author of the impact his or her book will have on others.
  3. Lack of encouragement: Authors not only need accountability, but they also need people around them to encourage them to write. Without this, most authors will find themselves in a recurring cycle of starting and stopping.
  4. Lack of a penalty: Anytime there are rules, there has to be penalties. Rules without penalties are playpens for rebels.  Authors should always penalize themselves for every day or every week that they don’t write; this way, they learn to hold themselves accountable.
  5. Fear of success: This is an actual fear that terrorizes more than 50% of would-be authors! The fear of success is often fueled by the fear of the unknown. What will happen to my family if I suddenly become a best-seller? Can my marriage withstand the pressure? What about my children? What if my book goes viral, but someone points out an error in my teaching? Can I hold up to a critic with a degree?
  6. Outdated systems: Our lives and choices are a part of our personal systems, and just like every system (think computers for example), our systems have to be updated. Our systems are the way we do things, how we do them and when we do them. Every person on this planet has a daily system, a weekly system and a monthly system. For example, you may wake up every morning, brush your teeth, take your shower, brew yourself a cup of coffee, get dressed, wake up the kids, drink your coffee while reading the newspaper, and leave for work at 7:30. At work, you have a system and every time corporate wants to change the system that you’re acclimated with, you find yourself in the lounge, complaining about the changes. When you come home, you have a system; the point is, you have a way of doing things. Writing a book requires that you implement a new system into your life. You do this by removing some activities from your life so that you can have the time and the mental capacity to write your book. The average would-be author tries to add book-writing to his or her system. This is a mistake because it leaves the author feeling spent and therefore, the author decides to put writing the book off since writing is not a part of his or her system.
  7. Lack of revelation: Earlier on this list, we talked about the lack of knowledge, but many authors have the knowledge they need to write their books, but they lack revelation. What’s the difference? Knowledge comes from the word “know,” it it simply means (in biblical terms) the abundance of one’s heart. It’s what you know and believer. Nevertheless, when dealing with lack of revelation, authors find themselves writing about a bunch of experiences and teachings that they lack the ability to explain. When this happens, it generally means that the author is prematurely trying to push out a book that God has given him or her.

As you can see, WP is often the result of lack, fear and comfort zones that have become prisons. So, how does one overcome Writer’s Procrastination? Is there a formula that would ensure every author not only finishes his or her book in a timely manner, but also ensures the success of a book? Let’s first deal with the latter question. The answer is no. There is no formula to success. Here’s the reality. Not every book will become a best-seller. As a matter of fact, you would need to sell 3,000 books in one week to make the best-seller’s list. Some authors never reach the best-seller’s list until they’ve written their tenth book! This can be discouraging to some but reassuring to others. Think of it this way: the first nine books helped the author to learn the ins and outs of authorship. This qualified and prepared the author for the best-seller role, and the minute the author’s tenth book hit the best-seller’s list, readers started looking for more books from that author. This means the success of the first nine books was predicated on the success of the tenth book! It’s all about perspective.

But the golden question obviously is, how does one overcome writer’s procrastination?

  1. Read, read and read some more. The best way to build your confidence as a writer is to read about topics that you’re passionate about.
  2. Write, write and write some more. Start a blog and make it a point to update it every few days. This will help you to become comfortable with your own voice.
  3. Invest, invest and invest some more into your unpublished book! It is a well-known fact that humans don’t like to abandon what they revere as valuable. Matthew 6:21 says it this way: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Your heart is the spirit of your mind. To put your mind on your book, start investing in it. Purchase your book’s cover. Pay for or start paying on your book’s publishing package. When you do this, you won’t abandon the project or put it off too much because it’s costing you something.
  4. Surround yourself with people who encourage you. When we surround ourselves with positive people, we surround ourselves with God’s love. His love will always encourage and empower us to take on every Goliath that stands in our way.
  5. Be accountable. Tell your pastor and a few people about your book and encourage them to push you. Tell them what your deadline is and commit to it.
  6. Do the math and establish a penalty. The best way to disciple yourself is to discipline yourself! What does this mean? For example, if you want to finish writing your book in three months, you have 93 days to write. It’s more feasible to think that you’ll be free to write 45 of those days. If your book is to be 250 pages, you would need to write (on average) six pages every day for 45 days. If you wrote five days out of the week, you would have to write for a total of nine weeks. For every week that you don’t write, give $50-$200 to a charity or better yet, to  your church. Have you accountability partner to hold you to this.
  7. Get understanding. If you write something but cannot explain it, it’s time to take a break from writing and do some reading. Always remember the teacher must first be a student before he or she can be an effective teacher.
  8. Update your system. Comfort zones are for consumers, not producers. If you are to every be successful in life, you have to do more producing than you do consuming. Anytime a person consumes more than he or she produces, lack becomes that person’s reality.