How I deal with procrastination – Keris Stainton

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By Keris Stainton

I am a much better procrastinator than I am a writer. If there was a Booker Prize for procrastination, I’d be there, every year, all dolled up and gulping down the champagne. But alas, I remain unrewarded for my skills in this area.

I saw an article on Twitter recently about how procrastination is actually good for us. I saved it, but I haven’t read it yet. Because… well, you know. Despite this handicap, I’ve had ten novels published in the last seven years, so I must be doing something right, but what is it? I think I’ve found a few things that work.

1. Write first thing in the morning.

I mean first first thing. I try to do it before I even get out of bed. If I get out of bed I make a cup of tea, do some yoga, have a look at Twitter/Facebook/Tumblr, pick up a nearby book, go out with the kids, realise if I don’t clean the kitchen/bathroom the kids might actually be taken away, and only actually remember I was meant to write when I’ve flopped down in front of Pointless. But if I stay in my bed (I sometimes take a bottle of water and a piece of fruit up with me the night before) I can actually get the words down and then I’m free to waste the rest of the day.

2. Baby steps.

Write for an hour and give yourself a reward. But an hour is a really long time. A really really long time if you’re staring at a screen and straining your brain to the point of tears. So how does half an hour feel to you? Still too much? Fifteen minutes? Ten? Five? Five minutes of writing daily is better than a full hour of stressing and not writing. This also works for wordcount: you may think 100 words a day is pointless, but it all adds up. Literally. And I often find that if I tell myself I only need to do 100 words or five minutes, I end up doing lots more. And don’t forget the rewards.

3. Accept that you are a procrastinator.

A writer friend and I email each other every morning to set goals for the week. And often one of us will say something like “I know what I want to write but I just! can’t! make! myself! do! it!” and the other will reply “You always say this. This is your process. You’ll do it when you’re ready.” And this does seem to be true. Obviously if you have a deadline, you can’t wait forever for the urge to hit you, but sometimes all I need to do is tell myself I don’t have to write – I can allow myself a day of Ultimate Faffing – and I find I actually want to write. Imagine that.

Keris Stainton lives in Lancashire with her husband and two sons. She’s written a bunch of books for young adults and children, and is obsessed with Twitter, tea, and 1D. If You Could See Me Now is available now.

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