Tips for Avoiding Procrastination

Completing a novel takes up lots of energy, a fraction of which is the spark of inspiration that started it all. How can the author sustain enough energy to finish the novel without procrastination getting in the way?

Practical Advice on Writing a Novel

Putting it off until later is perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to crack. It so often happens that the writer possesses a rounded idea and the writing skills to express it, yet might still choose to wash the car or do the washing up first. By the evening, the writer might be left wondering where the time went.
 
Time Management for Writing

The idea of doing something is often more attractive than doing it. Writer’s block, old habits or a negative mental state often impinge upon the allocated writing time, particularly after making the decision to write. Finding the root of the problem is the best way forward. In order to do this, the following distractions need to be kept in check.

  • Watching TV
  • Lengthy telephone calls
  • Emailing
  • Browsing the web
  • Non-essential duties
Removing quick fixes will at first be difficult, but with persistence, will eventually pass. It might be necessary to shut oneself in a quiet room or even in the car to clear the head and to get on with the project at hand.
 
Help for Novel Writers
 
Experiencing success is important when novel writing. It is a difficult project and requires some flexibility. When the incentive is particularly low, the following strategies might help.
 
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© Rachel Shirley 2010
 
  • Carry the notebook everywhere for when ideas come, regardless of how fleeting this might be. The day is full of empty moments that can be fitted around commitments.
  • Set small goals. Ten minutes is better than non-productivity, even if half that time has been spent staring at a blank page.
  • Write on a post-it note a realistic pact on how long or how many pages will be committed to paper. This might help reinforce the idea of writing.
  • Committing a set time and place every day might condition the mind into writing rather like the case of Pavlov’s dogs.
  • Get to know the time of day when the mind is most alert. Some people function better in the morning than in the evening and vice versa.
  • Reinforce the experience of writing with a reward no matter how small.
  • If all esle fails, a small purchase in the form of novel writing software may help the writer get organised and set realistic goals, as well as prompts and tutorials to make writing the novel easy.

Free Flow Writing

A lack of enthusiasm for the novel is a fatal thing, and if the writer is serious about completing the project, must find a way of recapturing the spark. This might involve a complete over hall. The following pointers might help.

  • Liven up characters by injecting an interesting characteristic, a shameful secret or transgression to bring them into sharp relief or behave in a peculiar way.
  • Introduce more tension into scenes by adding comedy, embarrassment or conflict. This will make the scene more fun to write.
  • Cutting can be liberating. Cut cardboard characters, flat scenes and superfluous passages. Seeing the bare bones might clear the view for the redraft.

The novel need not be completed in sequence. Move on to a climatic scene if this will spur the words. Ideas for the build-up might present themselves.

Help with Writing a Novel
 
A persistent mental block can be very frustrating. It might sometimes help to discuss the problem with a friend or family member, but sharing the idea for the story might deflate the inspiration further. Persistence might cause further frustration. Knowing when to stop for the time being might be the wise thing to do if something needs resolving such as financial worries, stress and family commitments.
 
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