It’s not just you. I’m also putting off my current work-in-progress while I’m typing this.
But do you know that typing this itself is already beating procrastination?
In fact, I’m writing more nowadays compared to last year when I haven’t started blogging. And I don’t get drained out so easily since I can switch between my creative fiction and my factual blog (where I learn new things every day).
Here are some ways that I personally use to overcome procrastination.
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1. Write On The Go
The best way to beat procrastination is to do the task right this instant. And for us authors, that would be writing.
We can squeeze in some writing time during our commute home or to any other places, between our chores or while we’re waiting for someone.
These few minutes of writing will add up in the long term. So don’t belittle them!
I wrote 10 minutes each weekday while traveling to work (it was only a 15-minute ride there). Even though that’s only a mere dozen or so words, they were still words. And these words would contribute to my completed novel. (Although I’m guilty of not doing this now that Pokemon Go has arrived…)
To write on the go, we just need one of these portable devices:
And from these devices, we can download some writing software. There are numerous apps in the market and these are just 2 of them.
I assume most of our manuscripts are done through Microsoft Word.
So what better way than to continue writing our manuscript on the go?
We can download the software on our laptop or install the app on our phone. And we just simply write away!
But of course, you have to format and style it properly when you return home. The desktop version still has the most robust features.
This is one of my favorite tools!
Okay, I admit that I’m a Google fan who uses Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google Keep, Google Analytics and… you get my drift. Plus, I’m a Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) user too. Which is why it’s easier for me to use Google Docs on my phone rather than Microsoft Word since I’ve already installed and am using all their other apps.
Google Drive stores your files (including Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides) in the cloud, allowing you to sync documents across devices. If I use Microsoft Word, I would still need to transfer the file (unless you’re using Office 365 that is also cloud-based).
Moreover, if your manuscript is already a dozen chapters long, it will take some time to load. And I don’t want to risk accidentally deleting some paragraphs (or chapters!) while scrolling down my Microsoft Word manuscript on my phone.
You can always create a new Google Doc or Microsoft Word document that is totally clean with just the last paragraph you’ve written. And continue writing from there!
Scrivener, available on both Mac and Windows, is the go-to software for writers:
- Distraction-Free Writing: switch to full-screen writing whenever you need a focused session
- Corkboard: virtual index cards for your planning needs
- Outliner: provides an overview of each chapter where you can easily reorganize everything using drag & drop
- Templates: character or location sheets for planning a novel & academic non-fiction (with footnote support)
- Writing Progress: you can also set word or character targets for your entire manuscript, a specific section or your current writing session
It also automatically saves and backs up your manuscript while you write!
And the best part?
Whatever you write in here can be easily published at the click of a button! Even complex scriptwriting formatting.
- Create ePub & Kindle eBooks to sell on Amazon or elsewhere, or for proof-reading on an e-reader
- Print your screenplays directly or save them as Final Draft format with script notes intact
This is useful for those who aren’t so good at formatting (like me). You don’t have to worry about inserting a Table Of Contents for eBooks or margins, header/footer and page numbers for print books.
If you want to save some cost and hassle of hiring a professional to do your book interior formatting, you can consider getting Scrivener.
But note that there is a steep learning curve, just like how you need to learn formatting in Microsoft Word from scratch.
Overall, Scrivener is still an excellent tool and companion for authors!
2. Track Progress
As a slow writer myself, it’s depressing every time I look at my manuscript at the end of the day… Only 1 page or maybe only a few paragraphs written.
So I’ve decided not to mind these small things anymore. But look at the big picture instead.
And this is where a word count tool comes in handy and becomes a great motivation. Because you get to view the overall progress and see that graph climbing towards a completed draft.
Almost like a ray of hope in this discouraging situation.
You can use some of these software:
Writeometer (Android), Wordly (iOS)
There are many free word count apps such as
And cause I’m using an Android phone so Writeometer is my go-to word count app. Such apps are great in the sense that they not only track your daily word count but also calculate your words per hour (useful for those who are curious how fast or slow they are writing that day).
Writeometer also has this log where you can describe how writing was today. As well as this timer (which is similar to the Pomodoro technique that I’ll explain later) and treats (again, emphasizing the need to celebrate milestones and reward yourself).
Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets
You can always use the manual DIY method of creating a word count sheet yourself. Some metrics you could add are the number of words written today, the total sum in a week or month or even the number of words per hour.
Although I already have a word count app in my phone, I also have a word count sheet. This is useful especially when you change your phone and the data in your word count app is wiped out. See how I even added a chart to track my word count over the months? And I duplicate this sheet annually to see my year-on-year writing progress.
Pacemaker or NaNoWriMo
Pacemaker is great for creating a schedule that suits you and allowing you to reach your goal according to your pace.
Another tool would be NaNoWriMo. As we all know, November is the National Novel Writing Month where you aim to write 50,000 words (exactly 1 novel!). You get to earn badges by reaching certain milestones in NaNoWriMo. The con is you’ll probably only use it during November.
Both sites encourage you to write since you can compare your progress with others. Especially beneficial for those who need some peer pressure to get things done.
3. Start A Blog Or Diary
At first glance, you might find this a waste of time. I did too. Why would I use that time to write a blog or diary than writing my actual manuscript?
But wait a minute.
Even without blogging, my time was wasted surfing the net or reading news about my favorite celebrities.
Why not cut down on the time that I’ve been procrastinating? Isn’t it better if I use that same time to write and hone my writing skills?
These days I only spend 15 minutes reading the news (scanning them quickly and only reading the more important ones) because I need to set aside some time to write my blog posts.
Plus, I get to learn quite a few self-publishing tips while researching for ideas and statistics for my new blog post.
But it doesn’t have to be a blog or diary. You can do a writing prompt or a six-word story to keep your creative juices flowing. You never know, this might become your next novel!
Or you can watch some videos and learn about writing, self-publishing and more in Udemy and CreativeLive writing classes. This way, you’re still honing your writing skills even while you’re not actually writing.
4. Plot On The Go
If you want to continue working on your manuscript and not go too far off, you can try plotting on the go instead.
It’s not exactly writing but you’ll be planning scenes and topics for your fiction or non-fiction book.
And I admit, I’m a plotter rather than a pantser. I tend to plot a few chapters in advance. So when I sit down for my writing session, I can just type away without wasting time thinking what should be happening in this chapter.
I firmly believe that plotting makes your writing session more productive.
There are some tools you can use for plotting:
Basically, any tool that has a note-taking feature can be used for plotting. You can even use post-it notes! But because I’m too lazy to carry them around, I usually use a note-taking app instead. Even better if the note-taking app is already included in your phone so you don’t have to download another app.
I’m sure there are more advanced plotting tools. But we probably wrote down our entire plot on some sheet that we can easily refer to while writing.
This plotting app, however, is just to jot down our ideas quickly while we’re outside or busy.
For example, my detailed plot notes are written in my Evernote. I break them into scenes for various chapters as well as discarded plot ideas and future plot ideas. At the same time, I use Google Keep for jotting down ideas. Sometimes I get inspiration while bathing and I quickly note it down in Google Keep. And only after dinner when I have some time to myself then I write the full idea out in Evernote. I also chose Google Keep because I use it as my to-do list. It’s really useful by the way.
5. Write In Short Bursts
Have you heard of the time management method, Pomodoro?
This technique is about working in blocks of time (usually 25 minutes long) where you try to get things done. And after this, you get a short break for about 5 minutes. Hence, a large task can be broken down into these short-timed intervals spaced out by short breaks.
This is super effective for writing.
For instance, I used to write for a while then do other things then go back writing. This delay is quite long too where I surf the net, watch a show or read some news. With Pomodoro, I’ll try my best to write as much as I can in this short period.
Use Pomodoro method and do some burst writing in this power session!
Find Your Optimum Concentration Time
You don’t always have to stick to 25 minutes. Adjust it according to your needs and whatever amount of time that works best for you.
For instance, I’m the type who will procrastinate more if there are many breaks (where I lose track of time while surfing the internet during each break). So short focused sessions with many breaks between them don’t work for me. I need long focused sessions with fewer breaks (plus, I need some warm-up time before my creative juices start churning).
Also, when I know that I have 1 hour of free time, I will change the timer to 1 hour. This forces me to do nothing but write in this power hour.
But of course, this Pomodoro session can’t be like 5 hours long. I don’t think anyone can write for 5 hours straight. You really need short breaks or you’ll be completely drained out when the session is over.
There are various Pomodoro apps that you can download. Some of them even have charts or graphs to compare your performance and badges or ranks that you can unlock when you complete a certain amount of sessions or work over a certain period of time.
I use Productivity Challenge Timer (available on both Android and iOS). If I didn’t work for a while or didn’t work as much as I did previously, I get demoted. And there’ll be this irritating song that mocks you (which is good cause it pushes me to work harder and get promoted instead).
Or you can simply just use your phone’s timer which goes off once you reach 25 minutes.
6. Celebrate Milestones & Reward Yourself
Finishing a book is an exhaustingly long journey. It’s very time-consuming and requires a lot of creative juices (for fiction authors) and in-depth research (for non-fiction authors).
Without a doubt, the greatest reward would be the completed manuscript.
But until you have a completed draft, you can always reward yourself when you reach certain milestones. This reward is like giving yourself a pat on the shoulder: for doing so much, coming this far and to hang on for a little while more.
Think of it as a positive reinforcement. When you get rewarded for meeting a milestone, you’ll more likely continue writing and aim to meet the next milestone.
Remember the Writeometer app I mentioned earlier? Well, they have a treats feature where you can set rewards like surf the internet, watch a YouTube video or have a short coffee break. These can be used during the short breaks in between your Pomodoro sessions.
You can always create harder milestones and better rewards. Like a celebratory feast at a restaurant or 1 day of rest when you finish 5 chapters.
7. Visualize & Write Down Your Goals
Achieve your goals by visualizing your desired outcomes!
This visualization technique has been used by countless successful people to accomplish their goals. By creating a mental image in your mind, you become more motivated to pursue that goal and make it come true.
There are many goal planner notebooks and templates that you can find in a bookstore, on Etsy or eBay. Or you can just write your goals on a large piece of paper and stick it to a wall in your bedroom so you’re reminded of them every day.
When you set your goals, include a deadline. Then, ensure that you stick to them.
You can also set long-term goals like getting the first draft done by end of the year. Or short-term goals like completing the current chapter by this month.
And another important tip, share these goals with someone. You can share them with your friends and family so they can support you along the way and pull you back on track.
Bonus Tip: Make Writing A Habit
Write every day until it becomes part of your daily routine.
You can always start small like allocating certain times to writing.
I do my fiction writing after dinner. All the way until midnight. Then, I switch over and start writing my blog posts. So I have a fixed schedule and timings for both writing. Writing is a habit for me now where I’m always writing something during my free time.
When writing is a habit, it becomes automatic. You don’t have to think about whether to write today, how long to write etc. You just write.
In fact, my longest writing streak is 71 days! It’s not really long but it’s still an achievement~
Now It’s Your Turn
Every author’s wish is to overcome procrastination.
Yes, procrastination is bad. But understand that there are times when we need to unwind and relax. Recharge our batteries then continue striving towards our goals.
We need to balance this unwinding time and writing time. When the unwinding time becomes too long, it becomes procrastination. And that’s when we have to take action and stop it.
What other ways have helped you beat procrastination?
Let me know by leaving a quick comment below right now.