Why Writers Procrastinate

Updated: Jan 27, 2019

Procrastination is an inevitable part of the writing process. Maybe, you have a river of excuses or mountain of distractions. For me, I often find myself on the Isle of Good Intentions. (Side Note: Who are these people with a sudden urge to do laundry? Can they come do mine? 😂)


Procrastinating is normal, but it's important to move on.


Here are the most common reasons why writers procrastinate.


  1. You're experiencing self-doubt. This may sound something like: "My writing will never be good enough. There are so many other writers out there. Maybe, I should just quit now." Every writer experiences this. The longer you procrastinate, the more power you give the doubt. Open a page. Start writing. If you need more inspiration, check out Neil Gaiman's pep talk for writers: here.

  2. You're stuck. You've lost the plot... temporarily. Let's diagnose what kind of stuck you are... The Character with No Soul Disorder Symptoms - I don't know what my character would do next. I don't know how my character would react in this scenario. I don't know where my character is going. The Cure - If you can relate to the above, your MC needs a check-up from the neck-up (I miss Robin Williams). What is the worst thing that ever happened to your main character? What is their greatest dream? What is their greatest fear? Who do they trust most in the world? What is something they believe that isn't true? If you can't answer these questions, you need to stop and answer them. When, you're done, you should be unstuck. Need more help? Check out K.M. Weiland's character arc: here. There's a Hole in the Plot! Disease Symptoms - I don't know where my story is going. I don't know what happens next. It feels like there is a lull in the story. I can't put my finger on it, but something is off. The Cure - Study plot structure. See how your story matches up. You might be missing a beat or (less likely) have too many. Check out this great article on Reedsy with flow charts: here. It's Just an Itch Symptoms - I'm just not sure if this passage sounds right. I'm not sure how many characters I want in this scene or where to set it. I want a really romantic kiss, but I'm not sure how to pull it off. The Cure - Write your way out. Open a blank word document. Write down your goals for the scene, i.e. MC meets crush. Immediate chemistry is demonstrated. A wrench is thrown in burgeoning relationship. Option 1 - Start writing. Re-read. Feel free to repeat as many times as necessary. Option 2 - Brainstorm. Write every possible way things could play out. Don't judge any ideas at first. Just write them down. Sometimes it helps to start with the most outlandish ideas possible, just to get your creativity flowing.


3. Your ideas are bigger than your current writing skill level. Totally normal. It's like learning three notes on guitar and wanting to shred out a Van Halen solo. You'll get there, but it's going to take time and practice. Read authors you admire and study how they tackle similar tasks. Emulate their methods. See what works.




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