Stop reading about writing. Just write.
That’s literally what I’m doing right now. I designated this time as dedicated “writing time,” and you know what I did? I opened my laptop and started reading about writing.
My favorite celebrity blogger has a writing challenge going on—maybe I should read what she has to say first. I wonder what the popular posts on Medium are—I’ll go there for some inspiration. I really need to update my welcome email for my newsletter—I should do that first.
Before long, I had twenty tabs open, and not one of them a blank Google doc or Note or Word doc. I find this happens all too often.
Writing is intimidating, and often just getting started is the hardest part. Reading about writing becomes my go-to form of procrastination, because it feels like I’m making progress toward my goal. When I find myself slipping into this trap, I have to force myself to stop and re-focus on what I’m supposed to be doing.
If you have the same issue, here are some quick tips to get you back on track. And whatever you do, do NOT google “writing prompts.” That’s just more reading about writing.
- Disconnect from the Internet. I know, it hurts. Just do it.
- Put your phone in another room.
- Grab a physical piece of paper, or open a blank Word document. Do NOT reconnect to the Internet.
- Set a timer on your phone for five minutes and jot down everything you see in the room.
- Journal. Write down anything that pops into your head.
- If you have a snack nearby, take a bite and really think about the taste. If there are multiple tastes, see if you can identify them and describe where in your mouth you taste them. This is one of my favorite exercises not only to kick-start my writing, but to practice writing descriptions. For example, last night I had chicken tacos, which were sprinkled with cilantro. I’m not usually a fan of cilantro, but instead of trying to ignore it, I focused on it, even nibbling a few sprigs of cilantro on their own. And I realized (for me at least) you actually feel cilantro in the top of your nose—it’s not so much a taste as it is a sensation in my nose, which makes me flare my nostrils. It’s a scent that I can’t get rid of for several minutes. Weird, I know. But for me it works. And I learned something new.
- Make your own list of writing prompts or blog topics, if you don’t have one already. I have a Google document of blog post ideas that I’m constantly adding to. If I feel stuck, I choose one and write just one to two sentences to get that post started. That’s all I have to commit to. If I don’t want to continue after those one or two sentences, that’s fine. Choose another post and do it again.
- Write a blog post about all the ways to stop procrastinating writing. 🙂