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Everybody does it.

At some point in your writing time you’ve been lured away to Twitter to see if there are any tantalizing new links. Or Facebook to see if your pumpkins are ready to be harvested. Or a gossip site. Or CNN. Or the wallet-draining, but oh so lovely, Amazon.

Everybody’s got their own choice of poison. Somewhere along our writing journey, we all find ways to procrastinate.

Let me be clear. I am in no way advocating procrastination. It can be a writer’s worst enemy, stealing away hours of productivity. But by using a computer for the majority of your writing, it's all too easy to minimize that WIP. So how can you stay on track?

Set a goal

Remember when you were younger and your mom would promise you a treat if you behaved in the grocery store? Same applies here. When you feel the itch to switch windows, check out your word count and give yourself a goal to hit before you’re allowed to take a break.

Set a limit

Even if you've reached your word goal and earned yourself that break, set a time limit for surfing and when it’s up, dive right back in that document. No exceptions. I don’t care if someone did make an amazing lolcatz ladygaga video on youtube (is there one? That would so make my day).

Make it count

If you’re going to take a time-out from writing, make the most of it. Catch up on blogs about the industry. Network. Do something useful. (And no. Playing word games or zuma on-line, sadly, does not count)

Stay on track

If you still find yourself dragging your feet, take a look at your outline or think about what direction you wanted the story to head in. Does it feel right? Are you avoiding certain scenes because you're not sure how you'll pull them off? Take some time to straighten out your thoughts before sitting down. If you can see where you're going in the story, you'll find yourself taking less breaks, and therefore less inclined to procrastinate.

*photo curteousy of psyberartist
Amanda Hannah

Amanda grew up on a big farm in a small town with one stoplight, one school, and a handful of imaginary friends.She would’ve gone to college forever, but eight years and five majors tested her advisor’s patience. So she moved to Germany to explore creepy castles before landing in Spain where she’s perfecting her Flamenco.

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  1. So how might one go about making a lolcat lady gaga video...? Just askin'.

    Procrastinating is like dieting; it's not an insta-cure-all, it's small changes working to an over-all lifestyle. You can also look at it from the other angle: if I write more, then I can zuma on-line or whatever it is the kids do these days for say twenty-six straight hours.

    Very useful post!

  2. Good post!
    I reward myself for every hour or so of writing with about 15 minutes of online noodling. I'm on facebook, twitter, blogger, and then I have to check the entertainment section of huffpo for the latest trashy gossip.
    There's actually software to block your access to the Net, but I've never had to resort to that.

  3. Great tips! I'm getting better at not procrastinating. I have a four year old and if I don't write when my husband says he'll entertain him, it just won't get done.

  4. My problem isn't that I don't know all this stuff, but that I don't DO it. Sigh!

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  7. I think I would procrastinate 1000% more if I were home all day! Since I have very little time to write, I try to use it productively.

    That may include writing when 6 year old is playing with 2 year old Lab under my desk. Or 9 year old asking for a snack. Or hubs is wanting me to watch just "one more hilarious Youtube video."

    No wonder I do my best writing in the quiet of my day job at lunch! LOL (Sorry, I can't spell!)

  8. I have a two year old and I can only write when she naps. And yet even now, as I'm posting this comment, I'm procrastinating.

    Normally I write a page or a scene and then I reward myself with a quick trip to the internet.

    Yep- I can't spell either


    Goes a little bit like that ^
    Ha! But I procrastinate a whole bunch. I find the best way to stop myself is to get up and do a little jig. To get me back. Like stretching, except more aerobic?

  10. My problem is I back everything up via email (among other things). I have to find a way to hide my inbox or else the shiny of the YAHighway chat thread sucks me in every time.

    In other words, I blame y'all.

    j/k. Great post Amanda!

  11. Loved this post! So very true. I had to set myself a time limit, just like suggested.

    With two kids I have to write during naps so the time has to be divided wisely. Hard as that may be.

  12. I love your analogy from childhood. Setting goals is often overlooked. It sounds so binding and formal, but there is such validity in doing so. Can we link this for our Friday round-up? Everyone needs helping fighting the temptation to procrastinate!

    Thanks again :)

  13. Procrastination is a mean little beast. But this post makes me feel guilty about how much time I spend on the internet, hehe. I SHOULD do a time limit for myself.

  14. I'm awful at this. I am actually "writing" right now but found myself on my blog and then onto the blogs that I'm following and then by fate I see this post by you. Think it's a sign? lol

  15. Ha - back to work, Cindy! :D

    Great post, Amanda! I'm with Kate-it's the emails that kill me. Oy vey.

  16. Marissa -- Of course! I'd love for you to link it.

    Michelle & Kate - if you guys weren't so darn interesting, email wouldn't be such a problem ;)

    meeroar -- I knew there had to be one! Thanks! lol


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Item Reviewed: Procrastination Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amanda Hannah