It is so much more exhausting not to work than to work. If you procrastinate, you’ll feel more exhausted than if you’d created for hours. Never forget how tired not creating makes you feel.

If you pursue a career in writing, there will always be a deadline to meet. Let’s be honest, we all know that we have lives outside of our writing. Sometimes it is children, or school, or another job. It can be easy to push our writing to the back burner because we trick ourselves into believing that we’ll have time to work on it later. . . . Later, . . . One of the foulest words in the world.“Later” is a myth!

By the time later comes around, only two days but ten chapters are left until the writing is due. Now, panic and stress are setting in. Life is still coming from every side, but there is no time to put the writing away for later.

I am a procrastination expert. College has taught me that I can procrastinate and still pass classes, but the anxiety that accompanies an all-night paper is miserable.

But what if the anxiety from procrastination has nothing to do with a deadline? In the previous “Tuesday Tip,” I talked about resistance to getting started, and while starting has its challenges, so does staying motivated. Even if you don’t have a “due date” for your writing, you can still procrastinate. If writing isn’t your career but is something you do to vent or to find emotional or psychological relief or release, then not writing can actually be hazardous to your health. If you write solely for an internal, personal reason, procrastinating may leave you tired, cranky, and disappointed in yourself.

Think of this as P.A., Procrastinators Anonymous—where tomorrow never comes.

The first thing you have to do is admit you have a problem. Hi, my name is Bonnie, and I am the worst procrastinator I know. People look at me in horror when I tell them I have an assignment due tomorrow and haven’t even touched it. Now, it’s your turn. . . . Don’t worry, . . . I’ll wait. . . .

Now, what are your excuses?

What comes after the “but” when you think, I know I have a big writing project I need to work on, but . . . (BUT another evil word). No more “buts.” Life has a habit of becoming a series of “buts” if you’re not careful. Finding out the root of the distraction will, hopefully, make it easier to overcome. Not only do you want to consider your excuses, but think of the ways in which you describe your project mentally. You may avoid writing because you’ve attached a large amount of anxiety to it that revolves around the way you describe it. Sometimes thinking of the project as a whole can be overwhelming. If the “bigness” of your project makes you procrastinate, make it smaller. Don’t think about the end game just yet. Instead, create pieces that you can get done in one sitting or over just a few days.

Know yourself.

Understand that just sitting down to write might not be enough to get you to start. If you have a “thing,” a ritual or routine, that you do to get yourself in the writing mood, DO IT! Also, know your spot. I cannot do work in my house where there are books, televisions, animals, and people pulling my attention from my writing. Now, saying that, sometimes we really have no choice, and we cannot abandon our responsibilities to sit down and write. However if you know that you are more likely to focus on your writing in a coffee shop or a bookstore, plan a time to go write there for as long as you have to, so that you don’t feel the crushing weight of self-disappointment.

Avoid overestimating what you can do in one sitting.

Over/underestimateEven when the next great piece of literature just won’t bust out of you, at the very least, do a task that contributes to the project as a whole. Brainstorm a few ideas, outline a section, or come up with a title—really anything that will make you feel like the project is moving.

Writing can feel like hard work sometimes—a lot of times. Especially when we really really, really wish or need to do something else, but nothing will uplift your mind and body like accomplishing even a little bit of writing.

This creativity tip is inspired by and based on The 97 Best Creativity Tips Ever! by Dr. Eric Maisel (2011), and is used with his permission.


Bonnie Snow was an intern with Around the Writer’s Table, working toward a graduate certificate in publishing and editing while in her senior year at Florida State University. She is inspired by the editing field’s penchant for helping others see their dreams realized. It’s important to Bonnie that the art of editing come, not only from refining writers’ works, but also in understanding the vision that authors wish to impress upon others and fully supporting them in their fulfillment of their purpose and passion.

Gina Edwards is a retreat leader, a certified creativity coach, and a book editor. She is also a writer, so she’s intimately familiar with the challenges and elation that come with being one.

She supports all writers—published and aspiring—who want to write as an act of courageous and necessary self-expression.

Walking the writer’s path hand-in-hand with her clients and students, she helps them establish a writing practice and define a creative life on their own terms.


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