How to Stop Procrastination

Writers are notorious procrastinators. One will look for any excuse not to write, but when you step into a bookstore you realize that your favorite writers finished their work. Sure, they may have procrastinated along the way, but at some point they got down to brass tacks and got to THE END.

The dream of publication is an intoxicant that keeps many writers in the chair. So how do the pros overcome the desire to clean the house, to return overdue library books, to do the grocery shopping and file their taxes early, all in an effort to avoid writing? Well, an article in the Harvard Business Review has a few ideas on how to beat procrastination (link to full article at the end):

It’s all about rebalancing the cost-benefit analysis: make the benefits of action feel bigger, and the costs of action feel smaller. The reward for doing a pestering task needs to feel larger than the immediate pain of tackling it. - Caroline Webb

In her article, Caroline Webb suggested you can overcome procrastination by doing the following, and if you’re following along at home want to know if these techniques work, the simple answer is yes. Give them a try:

  • Visualize how great it will be to get it done.

  • Pre-commit, publicly.

  • Confront the downside of inaction.

  • Identify the first step.

  • Tie the first step to a treat.

  • Remove the hidden blockage.

Patiently ask yourself a few “why” questions—“why does it feel tough to do this?” and “why’s that?”—and the blockage can surface quite quickly. Often, the issue is that a perfectly noble competing commitment is undermining your motivation. - Caroline Webb

You can read Caroline’s full article here. And if you’re thinking about finally putting an end to your procrastinating ways, joining a community of writers is a great next step. Check out our classes (In-Person & Online) in Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Screenwriting via the button below.

Character Questionnaire with Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust Character Questionnaire

French author Marcel Proust invented this questionnaire to get closer to his characters. If you want to discover who your characters are try to answer all or some of the questions below. Consider it an interview between you and your character(s):

  • What do you consider your greatest achievement?

  • What is your idea of perfect happiness?

  • What is your current state of mind?

  • What is your favorite occupation?

  • What is your most treasured possession?

  • What or who is the greatest love of your life?

  • What is your favorite journey?

  • What is your most marked characteristic?

  • When and where were you the happiest?

  • What is it that you most dislike?

  • What is your greatest fear?

  • What is your greatest extravagance?

  • Which living person do you most despise?

  • What is your greatest regret?

  • Which talent would you most like to have?

  • Where would you like to live?

  • What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

  • What is the quality you most like in a man?

  • What is the quality you most like in a woman?

  • What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

  • What is the trait you most deplore in others?

  • What do you most value in your friends?

  • Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

  • Whose are your heroes in real life?

  • Which living person do you most admire?

  • What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

  • On what occasions do you lie?

  • Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

  • What are your favorite names?

  • How would you like to die?

  • If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

  • What is your motto?

You can bring your characters to life with deadlines and warm readers in one of our 8-week writing workshops (In-Person or Online).

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Basic Rules of Creative Writing

As craft nerds at Writing Workshops Dallas, we love writing advice and we love Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 basics of Creative Writing. These come from the preface to his story collection Bagombo Snuff Box:

  1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

  2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

  3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

  4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

  5. Start as close to the end as possible.

  6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

  7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

  8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Vonnegut said the greatest American short story writer of his generation was Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964). He said she broke every one of his rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that. And all great writers had to start somewhere. If you’re thinking about joining a community of writers, check out our classes (In-Person & Online) in Fiction, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Screenwriting via the button below.