If you’ve researched your topic, you understand your audience and you know what you want to say, then moving to action and starting to write should be utterly straightforward and require no particular effort. Right?
Not so. All writers, whether scribing for books, blogs or whitepapers, know only too well that sometimes this just isn’t the case. Getting down to the physical act of writing can take a herculean force of will.
Distractions crowd in. Secondary objectives suddenly become appealing. Shall I place that grocery order? Read my email? Clear out my desk drawer? All of these suddenly seem more attractive than just logging on and starting to write.
How can we get ourselves to stop procrastinating and move straight to action?
I’ve just started a blog and recently finished writing my first book. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:
1. Remember why you’re writing, and write this down first.
Remind yourself what this chapter/article/paper will do for you and your business when completed. This action is taking you in a direction you want to go. Remember this objective and write it down at the top of your To Do list.
2. Stop using energy thinking about it and just do it.
Just do it. Walk into your office, open your computer and start.
3. Remember that actions are finite.
Anticipate the end. Once you’ve done it, it’s done, and it won’t have to be done again. So get on with it!
4. Ask someone to manage you.
Tell a peer, a friend or your boss that it will be done by 3 pm. If they are a real friend, they’ll drop by a while before the deadline to check that you have started.
5. Tell a large number of people you’ll do it.
Trap yourself. If you’ve made a commitment to a lot of people then the shame of saying you didn’t try will outweigh the effort of doing it.
6. Find something you enjoy and treat yourself.
Write in a pleasant place – a favorite coffee shop or library or a room overlooking the sea (as I’m writing from now). What ever it takes: wear favorite clothes or special socks – just like athletes do!
7. Do nothing else.
Allow yourself to do nothing else until you’ve completed your chapter/paper/article. Here’s the thoughts of Raymond Chandler, creator of Philip Marlowe and author of novels and screenplays, writing about how he gets himself to do things:
The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at least, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything else but write. He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it he shouldn’t try. He can look out of the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor, but he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, not write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks. Either write or nothing.
Different things work for different people and in different circumstances. What works for you?
About the Author: Jane Northcote is author of Making Change Happen – a practical guide to implementing business change, and she blogs about getting things done in organizations.