There’s something about a writing project that makes procrastination especially easy, even when you’re motivated to do the project. An email conversation with a reader got me thinking more about this.
I’ll not go into all the reasons why I think it’s easy to procrastinate on writing projects and will instead focus on a common reason I see: many writers don’t start writing because they don’t think they’ll be able to finish the writing. In this case, end-goal thinking is getting in their way.
Because they’re not starting, they can’t start finishing.
A technique that I use and share with people is this: focus on writing 300 words about a given project.
Here are three aspects of the writing project you can write about:
- Substance – You can write 300 words of actual content: “10% of the whatnots are howzits, which means ….”
- Commentary – You can write something about the project or content. “I’m not quite sure of the best way to make the discussion of whatnots interesting. In fact, I’m now bored with whatnots. What originally got me interested in whatnots was ….”
- Structure – You can write something about the structure of the piece. “It seems to me that I need to talk about the whatnots first to provide context about the howzits, because otherwise ….”
I use this trick to great effect because I know I can write 300 words, at the same time that I rarely ever just write 300 words. The technique gives me an imminently attainable goal that I have no excuse not to achieve and focuses on the actual starting rather than on the finishing.
The next time you’re either stuck or procrastinating on a writing project, give yourself a goal of writing 300 words on it. (Click to tweet – thanks!)
You can. Will you?