How to Take Advantage of Procrastination: A Quick Tip That May Change The Way You Work


Some of you may know that I offer a Lifestyle Consultancy through Clarendon House Publications. Usually these consultancies tend to centre around 'real life problems' impinging upon the writer's desire or time to write — family or finance or work-related issues which can be complex and not easy to resolve. But a lack of productivity as a writer sometimes comes up too, arising from various factors including the demon Procrastination. Here’s some advice I gave recently which may be applicable to several writers.

This writer was concerned about writing speed — finishing stories too slowly, needing a lot of time, missing opportunities because of that, and that kind of thing.

If you’re a slow writer, it might be tempting to try and find ways of speeding up your writing process, but this might be an incorrect approach. Instead of treating the slowness as a problem, try to turn the 'glacial writing' method into a strength. How?

By having a number of projects in progress at the same time.

It's a 'trick' that I use with great results in terms of volume of work achieved. What I do is have three or four major projects in progress simultaneously, and work on each in the course of any given week. Progress on each one can seem glacial, to say the least — but, by breaking up the project and shifting attention onto another one for a while, one tends to accomplish two important things: firstly, the slow progress on the first project doesn't become a central problem, the kind of thing which frustrates the mind as 'it's just not going fast enough', because I simply switch to Project Two for a while, and then to Project Three, and so on; and secondly, the tendency of many writers to procrastinate becomes a kind of strength — one's attention drifts off one project, but straight onto another.

In practice, what this means is a regular flow of completed work comes off the assembly line over a period of time. Each project shifts inch by inch towards completion, and then often two or three fall off the end as 'dones' at around the same time. For example, Clarendon House recently published six books in the space of two or three weeks using this method: each book was moving along very slowly, creeping through each stage, edging its way closer to completion and then bang! They all reached the final stage within a few days of each other.

That way, any frustration at the speed with which one story is moving along is assuaged or even nullified by the sense that progress is being made on two or three others.

And Procrastination becomes an ally rather than an enemy.

Hopefully that makes sense.

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