If you are a writer, of any kind, I’m sure you are well acquainted with the problems of procrastination that many of us have to deal with. You know, where you tell yourself that you’ll sit down and write 1000 words and then you can have that meal or put the T.V. on. But what really happens is that you realise that the meal should be cooked now – otherwise it’ll go stale – it’ll only take a few minutes and then you can sit down and write the 1000 words. So you do. And then, because you are such a great cook, it all smells scrumptious and it would be a shame to leave it in the oven for a couple of hours. Okay, eat now, write later.
You’ve been snared by your own mind, a very critically thinking mind that is more devious than a politician’s mind. It’s happened to me, too many times, I’m sure it’s happened to you, too.
You have probably tried various methods to overcome procrastination of writing, found a few methods that look promising and tried a few that don’t fit your way of thinking. The good news is, It’s all in the Mind.
It’s possible to put an end to procrastination and start writing as soon as you want. There’s a lot to be said for the phrase, “Just Do It”.
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Our problem can be located in that part of the mind that we use to deal with everyday situations. It’s also the oldest part of the mind according to scientists and psychologists. We use it to protect ourselves from all manner of attack such as Sabre Tooth Tigers, strange-looking tribes’ people who invade our territory, poisons and activities which require us to focus attention and disallow the critical mind from marching in circles like a sentry trying to protect us from falling asleep and being eaten alive.
When we write our minds become clear and focused on the work at hand. When we are protecting ourselves from real danger or imagined, we let another part of the mind become active so that our senses are more acute. We become more alert and focused on our environment and it becomes impossible to look inside and find the relaxed and thoughtful process that helps us create stories.
If we were to look inside and think of story lines while working with a heavy tool or driving a car we might be in danger of an accident. Think mobile phones, how often have you seen people walking along the street totally engrossed in a conversation on their mobile phone?
Did they intend to forget where they were? In the middle of a busy street, traffic roaring close by, bike riders on the path and crowds of people jostling in all directions. They are in danger but they forgot to be watchful. Their friend or colleague on the phone has engaged their mind into a cosy and introspective exchange. They are not likely to be ready to react to a sudden need for protection in the event that a car mounts the curb or a bike rider miscalculates their path through the crowd.
The mobile phone consciousness is similar to the type of place we want to be in when we are writing – or just before we begin to write. Not passive but introspective.
An introspective mind will communicate with the deeper feelings and thoughts that we need when we are writing. It will help us connect with neuropathways that lead our thoughts to creative caverns of mind that will help us make progress with the writing.
In order to sit down immediately and write our 1000 words before becoming involved in a task that the Raptor mind demands of us, we need to exert just a little bit of will power. No more than the size of a sparkling star in the heavens or will power that is felt within the span of a nano-second. Nothing more. Just enough to shift the odds that we will actually sit and read the first sentence that we left behind yesterday.
Will power is an energy waster when used to force a person to do something they don’t really want to do. To exert that little bit of energy to make you read just one sentence is enough to engage the deeper mind that is needed. It is about engagement.
The mind will dwell on the thing that seems important. Sometimes, the magnetism of worry will engage the mind, sometimes it will be a story that we are writing. I bet there have been times when you sat down to read something and it inspired you to make notes or start writing on your story. It wasn’t intended but you just had to get those words down, right then and there.
There were also times when you discovered that you have been worrying about something for hours. You had no idea how you let your thoughts drift into those rough waters. It was the misappropriation of the Will, you willed your focus onto the worry and as quick as a flash of lightning you’ve got a storm on your hands.
Using the cold , hard knowledge that you are a writer and you want to write, you can over-ride the Raptor mind with the simple act of reading your work so far, of sitting in your writing chair and opening the computer to take a look. You will discover that, in that moment, the real you – the writer, will appear and begin doing what is obvious. Writing. It only takes a moment. Try it.
The problem of procrastination is common in all endeavours that require self motivation, people love to make a mountain out of a mole hill and tell you that you need to work on it or do this course to learn about Task-management etc. Your journey as a writer can really only be guided by you – the Captain of your ship. Be decisive, self-willed and listen to the artist in you who really needs you to sit down, with an empty stomach, and write those thousand words or more today.