Thursday, July 2, 2015

by Karen Barnett

I’ve discovered that most writers are masters at procrastination. It’s a topic that comes up frequently when we get together. For me, procrastination rears its ugly head when I’m struggling with fear.

Why should I be scared? I’ve already written several novels. Shouldn’t this be getting easier by now? It’s not. I’m afraid because I don’t just want to write—I want to write well. The tiny voice in the back of my head will whisper: “This story is garbage. No one will read this…if you’re lucky!”

If you struggle with these doubts and with procrastination, here are a few methods I’ve learned to help me get back on track. The first two deal with centering your heart. The next four are just simple tricks to keep you moving forward.

1. Start your writing session in prayer. It sounds so basic, but in my rush and my worry, I often forget. Praying helps to focus my mind and my heart. It reminds me that I’m not writing just for the reader, but for Him. And it also reminds me that I’m not alone in this endeavor. He’s right by my side.

Create a Playlist
 2. Create a playlist of inspiring songs. Not everyone can listen to music while they write, but I find it
a helpful tool to screen out other distractions. Sometimes after a few songs, I’m so lost in storyland I don’t even hear the music anymore. The songs you choose will depend on your style and your needs. Currently, I’m listening to songs that talk about courage and God’s presence. Here are a few of the titles:

• Word of God, Speak by MercyMe
• Give Me Jesus by Fernando Ortega
• Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher
• Only You by David Crowder Band
• Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Hillsong United

3. Bribery Okay, it may be a little shameful, but when I’m desperate to reach my daily word count, I’ve been known to stoop to bribery. Sometimes it might be a simple promise—if I finish by a certain time, I’ll watch an episode of a favorite television show or take a walk. Other times, I have to bring out the big guns . . . peanut M&Ms—one candy for every one hundred words. Usually, after I’ve written a few hundred words, I forget to keep rewarding myself and save them all for when I finish. Hey, it works for me!

Set a timer!
4. Setting a Timer. Sometimes when I’m wanting to do anything but write, it’s pretty hard to get my tail in the chair. That’s when I bring out the timer. It’s depressing to think, “I have to sit here for four hours.” Instead, I set it for twenty minutes. After the timer buzzes, I get a five minute break. I can check Facebook, take a Jane Austen “turn about the room,” or pour a fresh cup of coffee. Even if I’m not feeling like working, usually I can talk myself into twenty minutes. And once I get started, I often don’t want to stop.

 5. Go back and read your last scene. There’s something about reading yesterday’s work that primes the pump for today. It reminds me why I like these characters and makes me eager to go play with them.

6. Turn off my Wi-fi. I don’t know about you, but social media is a huge source of distraction for me. When a scene gets tough, it’s easy to click over to Facebook or Pinterest for a moment. The moment can quickly become an hour. There’s almost a drug-like affect to it because seeing those “likes” and comments piling up makes me feel important. Unfortunately, even a few minutes on social media interrupts my progress. When I return to my manuscript, I have to get myself moving from a standstill again. It’s days like that I have to pull the plug. I actually walk across the room and turn off the router. To cheat, I have to get out of my chair and usually that’s enough of a reminder to keep me planted.

I hope these ideas help you. What tricks and tips do you use for battling the procrastination monster? I’m always looking for new strategies!

Abingdon Press, June 2015

Beyond the Ashes: Golden Gate Chronicles 2 
Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love. Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

Karen Barnett is the author of Beyond the Ashes, Out of the Ruins, and Mistaken. Named the 2013 Writer of Promise by Oregon Christian Writers, Karen lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband, two teenagers, and three adorable dachshunds. Connect with Karen here:


1 comment :

  1. Great blog, Karen! Thanks for the awesome ideas. The timer trick works well for me too. HAPPY WRITING!


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