BOOKS

Writers: How To Stop Procrastinating -- Right Now

03/18/2015 02:15 pm ET | Updated Mar 18, 2015
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After spending countless hours writing, rewriting, and formatting your most recent project—it’s done! But before you can even breathe a sigh of relief, suddenly it’s time to start the labor-intensive work of the submission process. There’s a cover or query letter to write... hours of researching literary agents or journals…and hey, doesn’t the dog need a bath? Oh, and maybe you should start preparing dinner...

What you’re really doing is avoiding the writing submission grunt work: the tedious, time-consuming tasks that many authors don’t enjoy doing. But completing this work is imperative if your submission strategy is going to be effective and successful. And as any procrastinator can tell you, the longer you put off the busywork of writing, the more daunting and unappealing these tasks will become.

When the spirit is willing but the flesh would rather be watching YouTube videos -- how do you focus on completing the writing tasks you want to avoid?

Do The Worst... FIRST!

It’s an old adage, but there’s a reason it’s been kicking around so long. It works. When possible, first complete the task you enjoy least so that the rest of your time can be spent doing the steps you don’t mind working on. Before you know it, that looming chore will soon be a part of the process you can check off as “done.”

Is it writing your query or cover letter that makes you drag your feet? Think of it this way: You don’t have to get it perfect the first time. Start by writing a rough first draft.

Maybe it’s the endless hours of research causing you to dawdle. Bite the bullet and schedule an hour of research every day, or resolve to get it over with on the weekend.

Whatever the task, once you take the first step, each following step will be easier.

What If You Still Want To Do The Worst... LAST?

Okay, so maybe getting the worst part of your writing submission strategy finished first might not be something you want to do—or even can do. After all, if you hate the process of making online submissions, you can’t really do that before you’ve completed the research phase.

So reverse the reverse-psychology and do something you like to do. Start a new poem or story. Outline your next book idea. Then, when you’re feeling upbeat and energized, IMMEDIATELY tackle the difficult or disliked task you’ve been avoiding -- use that boost of positivity to power through the tough stuff. As poet Robert Frost once wisely stated: “The best way out is always through.”

However you choose to stop procrastinating, the important thing is that you’re taking a step in the right direction—starting right now.

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