One of the questions I hear the most is about overcoming the dreaded writer’s block, which is, more often than not, just procrastination. Whether it’s due to fear or laziness or “not feeling inspired,” it’s still just good old procrastination—and here are the three easiest, most fail-proof ways to overcome it.
Set a routine. While some writers gain inspiration or energy from writing in a different location or at a different time each time, many find that simply carving out a specific time and place to write each day gets them over the biggest hump, which is just making yourself sit down to write. If it’s already written on your internal calendar, the question becomes not “will I write today?” but “will writing go well today?” (which is a different topic altogether).
Set achievable goals. Another common problem is fearing the long journey ahead so much that you’re afraid to take that proverbial first step. Instead of telling yourself you have to sit down and “write the rest of your book,” try breaking up your writing plans into manageable chunks. A chapter today, a chapter tomorrow—or even a scene today, a chapter by the end of the week. If you’re really stuck, writing guru Anne Lamott suggests putting a small picture frame on your desk and telling yourself you can’t get up until you write enough text to fill just those few inches of space. Baby steps—it really works! Giving yourself permission to limit your goals lengthwise often frees you up to explore more content-wise.
Reward yourself. If there are things you’d rather do, tell yourself you can do them—as soon as you finish this chapter, or this hour, or that four-inch picture frame of space. Writing is hard work, and you do deserve a reward for whatever you did accomplish (rather than self-flagellation for not accomplishing enough). Even if you have an otherwise busy schedule, try to pat yourself on the back with a walk in the park, that new movie, or, you know, cake.