Blog - Resource for Writers

Blog - Resources for Writers

How to conquer procrastination

Share this to:

Advice based on Australian Style Manual (ASM)

Share this to:

How to conquer procrastination

You’re not alone

We love writing, right? Well, sure, sometimes it’s a love/hate relationship, but overall, we do it because we enjoy it, because we must, because it’s part of who we are.

So why do so many of us procrastinate when it comes to getting words down on the page?

The answer is pretty simple: Because it’s easier to do something else.

How to beat procrastination


If you’re like me, the more time you have to write, the less words you generate. I need a bit of pressure to make me work. So did Douglas Adams, apparently:

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

Hmmm. Perhaps that’s not quite what I meant, but I’m a perfectionist who’s hard on myself, and if I commit to someone or something external – whether to a word count for my writers group, entering a competition or applying for a mentorship – I’m there for it. I’m committed. I might be scraping in last minute, but I get it done.

Even now, I’m writing this blog because I committed to my accountability group to have it done before our meeting tomorrow morning. Pressure works for me. Without it, I inevitably stall.

Creativity drain

But I’m sure some of us also face blank-page days where we feel our creativity has been used up. You might be relieved to know that according to Maya Angelou, that’s a myth. She says:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

I tend to believe her, because how else have I written three novels and have another creeping along at a steady rate? I don’t know where creativity comes from, but I do know that if I sit down and start typing, it always appears at some point

Put your butt on the seat

Even if you don’t feel like it. Just open whatever you’re currently working on, and read the last paragraph. Then add another sentence. Even if it’s only the words “I am here. I am typing a word. Here’s another word. Oh look, a whole sentence.” Just the act of physically putting words down is often enough to stimulate your muse and engage with your story.

Choose a time of day and stick to it

Make an appointment with yourself. Block out half an hour, then commit to it. No matter what else is happening, prioritise that time – even fifteen minutes. Whether it’s first thing in the morning before you open your emails, during a morning cuppa, watching your kids play sport, or sitting on the train after work with pad and paper or an iPad. That time is yours. Guard it closely.

Write somewhere else

If sitting in your office or at your kitchen table is too distracting, choose somewhere new to stimulate your brain – a local café, the library, a park, the pub. Going there will give you purpose, and public places are perfect for people watching to develop new characters. Just don’t been creepy, okay?

Start small

Allocate a small timeframe. Five minutes the first day, ten minutes the next, then keep increasing. That time will grow over the days. Just the act of starting gives you the push to keep going and limiting your time will make you want to spend longer next time.

Leave something for tomorrow

Stopping at a point where you’re excited with your story, where you know exactly how the story is going to unfold or what witty thing your character is going to say, gives you impetus to pick where you left off the next day. There’s no sitting wondering what you’re going to write next. It’s already raring to go.

Permission to make mistakes

I’ve already admitted to being a perfectionist, so even as I’m giving this advice, I know how hard it can be to stick to it. But getting the story down is what matters, warts and all – not how beautifully written it is. That’s the fun part you get to go back and do later. *Waves finger at self in admonishment.

Join a writers group

Your local library or neighbourhood house will usually have a regular writers group that anyone can join. Or hunt about for an online group – Facebook groups are great for this. I joined my first in-person group back in 2010 and absolutely loved the regular commitment. Sure, it can be a little scary sharing your work, but most writers understand what it’s like to make yourself vulnerable and are more than willing to give supportive feedback. You take the advice you need, say thank you and forget the rest.

Try, try, try

I hope there’s something here to inspire you, but I’m aware that what works for me might not work for you, so I give you permission to grumble under your breath at me if none of these ideas work, as long as you then try something else. Persistence is the only way through

Don't wait for the muse to arrive

The right moment, the right weather, the right day, the right mood is not going to happen without you sitting down to do the work. You know what to do: sit!

Share this to:

Recent Posts


Need some help with your writing?

To have your manuscript edited by a professional editor, visit my Services page