How to be a Writer (1): Little Miss Procrastination

Procrastination is the enemy of the writer. But she is also your friend.

When you’re at school, the adults insist that you write, so you do it even when you don’t want to. But once you leave school and there’s no one looking over your shoulder, you have to find a way to make yourself do it. You have to find your own motivation, because otherwise you will spend far too much time chatting with Little Miss Procrastination. You will spend lots of time talking about being a writer, and not enough getting on with it and actually doing it. If you want to write well, and make a living out it, you must find ways to push yourself, like the grown-ups did to you when you were at school. Exactly the same methods apply when someone else is teaching you, and when you are teaching yourself. Set yourself time limits or targets; define your goals; make yourself stick at it, even when you don’t want to. Reward yourself if you do well. Sit down and write, because you can only get better at it by actually doing it. What are you even doing, reading this?

But wait just a moment … don’t forget the second part of the lesson. Procrastination is not necessarily a negative. She is also your friend. Blogging is procrastination. So is Facebook. And Twitter. And that writing forum you visit when you’re bored. So is gardening. And tidying. And emptying the cupboards for a Spring clean. Little Miss Procrastination is also useful, because she gives you mulling over time, sifting ideas time and having experiences time. Remember that you do an awful lot of writing, and marketing, when you faff about online (it’s just that nobody is paying you for it). Don’t be afraid to think for a long time: let your ideas find their own form, rather than imposing one on them because you got fed up with waiting. Meet up with your friend, but if her name is Little Miss Procrastination, just remember to send her home before she becomes your enemy.

The Seven M’s of Writing for a Living


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