Procrastination and Other Habits (Good and Bad)

We've all been there . . . "I'll do it later. I'll get to it tomorrow or maybe next week."

Writers are good at procrastination; it's almost an occupational hazard. Since most writing is done at home, no boss is breathing down our necks. So many other duties beckon when it's time to write. Being insecure and not knowing exactly where to start make the problem worse. It's much easier to put off writing than to learn how to do it.

"But, I'm not inspired!" one might wail.

"I'm just cogitating. Thinking time is very important to writers," another may say.

It's true. Writers do need time to think quietly. During quiet times, gems that have been gathering in our thoughts come to fruition. The important thing is to recognize the difference between "thinking time" and "putting-it-off time."

Being part of a critique group may help. Fellow writers meet regularly to read each other's work and encourage one another to be accountable. Often it helps to have someone to report to regularly. We will deal with this in depth in another article.

One helpful habit is to spend a short time each day writing in a journal. It doesn't need to be a great literary work, and it isn't always possible to write every day even in a journal. But it's a starting point and it establishes a good habit pattern for daily writing.

Writing a prayer journal to God, sharing all your thoughts with Him and then listening for His insight, can be an inspiring time, too.

Many poems, stories and articles have come from spending quality time with the Lord.

One bad habit that can creep in and rob the writer of time to write is the sudden need to clean and tidy the house. It's amazing how a person can think of a dozen previously unimportant, but at this moment imperative, things to do before sitting down to write. Plan a certain amount of time to write. The housework can be done during a break or after the allotted time is finished.

Diversions and distractions are often at war with the creative process. A neighbor's chronically barking dog, a nearby jackhammer or chain saw or loud music next door can be minimized with ear plugs, the "white noise" of music or the whirring of a fan.

Many writers fail to take themselves seriously enough. Non-writers, God love them, often don't understand and feel as long as you are home, you are available. We need to be kind, but firm, to protect our writing time. By taking our writing seriously, we recognize that we are doing God's work. Others may think we have a little hobby, or that what we do isn't important. As serious writers, we need to learn to not allow that to daunt us and to just write. We know our ministry to God is useful. We are each responsible to the Lord for using the gifts and talents He has given us.

Satan uses many ways to distract us from doing God's work.

It's good to remember that and to know deep in our hearts that God has called us to write.

Lack of knowledge can also be a real time and energy waster. There are a lot of things to know before we will be published. However, no one knows it all, and it is possible to step out in faith and write and submit our work even in the beginning stages.

Perhaps an acrostic will help.

W

=

Work diligently, for your work is for the Lord.

R

=

Remember all those others who are struggling with writing.

I

=

Insist on quiet time for yourself to think.

T

=

Take time to pray and ask the Lord to help you learn.

E

=

Enter into the joy of the Lord as you follow His will.

Bad habits can be broken and good ones formed. So what are we waiting for? Let's quit procrastinating.

Crystal J. Ortmann