Why Is Procrastinationitis More Acute in Writers?
Plus, how to prevent, treat, and cure it
I’ve been putting off writing this post…. That’s a joke. Seriously, I was going to start this by saying I’m one of those rare people who doesn’t procrastinate only to realize I’d been delaying preparing a keynote talk for three days. Yup. Insidious little ailment, that procrastinationitis.
I call it procrastinationitis because “procrastination” feels ominous. I also avoid labeling those of us who put off our work and would sometimes rather do anything but write “procrastinators” because that simply isn’t a thing. You’re not “a total procrastinator.” It’s not a personality trait or an identity.
Procrastinationitis tends to be more severe in writers. Why? Because we haven’t been taught how to prevent it and foolishly believe we should feel good and inspired when we write. (Um, no.) We’ve been in writing workshop after writing workshop and seminar after seminar, read how-to-craft book after supposedly-inspiration-inspiring book, yet no one—no one!—taught us how to understand our brains well enough to treat and cure procrastination. Or the right way to do a visualization—read on.
The 3 types of procrastinationitis in writers
1. Avoiding: You avoid writing but suffer the whole time until you verbally abuse yourself enough to finally do it.
2. Total rejection: You convince yourself that what you’re writing isn’t “good” or no one cared anyway and then never do it.
3. Spinning: You half-heartedly toil at what you’re writing, perhaps becoming resentful and hating it, ultimately taking an unnecessarily long time to complete it.
Total excitement about a new project followed by a profound lack of enthusiasm
A deep love of Netflix
The belief that social media isn’t that bad and scrolling mindlessly might actually foster creativity
The overwhelming desire to eat and drink anything so long as it takes you away from what you’re supposed to be writing
A friend or colleague wins a major award, gets a seven-figure advance, or reaches 70,000 subscribers—none of which you’ve done—which triggers the belief that no one wants to or will read anything you write.
You win a major award, get a big advance, or reach 70,000 subscribers, which triggers the belief that people do want to and will read what you write.
Prevention, Treatment, and Cure of Procrastinationitis
What you need to understand about your writerly brain
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