Getting Shit Done

Lonely Heart have just put a piece up I wrote on avoiding procrastination.  Go check it out.

Oh, the irony: you’re surfing the Internet right now.

Is it helping you write, or whatever it is that you should be doing?  I don’t know.  Maybe not.  Don’t beat yourself up about it: I surf the web when I should be doing things that are more productive too.

I’ve got a few techniques that I use that I’m happy to share.  It’s not really a recipe — it’s just how I work out whether I’m in a good place to mess about on the Internet or not.  Here’s my top five tricks.

Trick one: set aside some time to write.  I put it in my calendar.  It’s regular — same time each day, same amount of time each day.

Trick two: avoid assholes.  If I’m trying to get some writing time done at a place people know me, like the office — say, during my lunch break — I’ll never get anything done.  Nancy will want to talk about TPS reports.  Robert will want to catch up about the big game in the weekend.  It’ll end up with me wanting to kill them both with a fire axe.  I take myself away from my usual place so people can’t find me.

Trick three: understand my distractions.  This is different for different people — I know some authors who use tools to turn off their Internet so they can’t fiddle around when they’re writing.  Me?  I use the Internet all the time, but I always turn my phone on silent because I feel this compulsion to answer anything that rings.  I know what my distraction buttons are and turn them off when I’m writing.

Trick four: turn it to 11.  I know that nothing sets me procrastinating like being unmotivated, and my trick to fix that is snappy tunes.  I crank up some sounds when I’m writing — usually happy music for action scenes, punk for dialogue.  It gets me in the right place where my fingers want to dance over that keyboard.

Trick five: don’t worry about sucking.  Look, I know my first draft is unwholesome.  It’s just going to be that way.  Avoiding writing more of the draft to edit the stuff I’ve written? It’s just avoiding the problem of making new awesome content.  Everyone’s first draft sucks, so it’s ok that mine does too.  I refuse to re-edit the first draft until the whole thing’s done.  Editing before I’m done is just another form of procrastination.

Everyone’s different — my only real advice is to not judge your sloth by someone else’s yardstick.  Know what makes your product good, go out there, and be awesome.

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