How to Incorporate Procrastination into Your Writing Schedule

Kathy Edens finds that she can write content all day every day, but when it comes to fiction, she's terrified of the blank page. Her secret? Scheduling procrastination into her writing schedule.
Author:
Publish date:

Kathy Edens finds that she can write content all day every day, but when it comes to fiction, she's terrified of the blank page. Her secret? Scheduling procrastination into her writing schedule.

Image placeholder title

I am a writer afraid to write fiction.

Really, it goes beyond being afraid to write. I’m obsessed with the notion people will call me out, expose me to the world as a fake and a fraud: "See her! She can’t fool us; she’s not a real writer." Even though I make my living writing.

I know I’m in good company. A lot of writers, past and present, feel the same way. But knowing doesn’t help me write.

Why it's not writer's block

I can’t say my fear is due to writer’s block or I’m suffering from it. I still write every day and meet all of my deadlines. But there’s a fundamental difference between writing copy or content for businesses and writing fiction. One is easy to research, re-frame in your own words, and cite your sources. The other takes your heart and soul.

I recently attended a webinar by the author Jerry Jenkins. He stated he doesn’t believe in writer’s block, and I would have to agree. I know when I sit down at the keyboard, I must write, not just because it’s my job but because I feel compelled.

Why then can’t I funnel that same energy into writing fiction?

It's more like anxiety-induced procrastination.

My fear manifests itself in procrastination. I can find dozens of ways to avoid writing fiction. My favorites are taking writing courses, reading books about the craft of writing, and generally procrastinating by researching famous authors’ writing processes. I’m a VIP member of Writer’s Digest and love their webinars. These are just a few ways I spend time instead of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

However, Jerry Jenkins said something else in his webinar that changed my outlook:

"I schedule in procrastination."

Wait, what?

Jerry Jenkins is prolific with almost 200 published books. And he procrastinates? The difference is he’s learned to harness procrastination and make it work for him. He bakes a couple weeks of procrastination into his writing schedule for every novel—and he still always meets his deadlines. Jenkins said procrastination is important for him to percolate an idea and work it out before he sits down at the computer.

I can embrace that.

 Write Smart, Write Happy: How to Become a More Productive, Resilient, and Successful Writer

Write Smart, Write Happy: How to Become a More Productive, Resilient, and Successful Writer

Incorporating procrastination into your writing schedule

Since I don’t believe in writer’s block, when I’m at my desk, I know it’s time to write. I have no problem starting on my content workload first thing in the morning. So, I scheduled in fiction-writing procrastination in the top spot on my agenda each morning. Weird concept, but stick with me.

When I get up at 4:30am, I’m ready to start my work day. I have clients around the world, so more often an early start is necessary. But since I’ve been procrastinating on fiction for 20 minutes first thing every morning, I let my mind percolate on plot holes and "what if" scenarios for my WIP. Much like Jerry Jenkins does. I also write in a process journal where I keep notes on my writing life. Now, for 20 minutes every morning, because I scheduled in procrastination time, I’m focused on fiction writing.

Which compounds most mornings into an hour or more actually writing fiction. Good grief. It works.

It's all smoke and mirrors.

Scheduling in procrastination won’t work for everyone, especially if you’re prone to procrastinate on social media or by binge-watching Netflix. I know my procrastination time is nothing more than a smoke and mirrors game to trick my mind into working on fiction.

But it works for me.

And something tells me I’m not the only one who puts off writing through fear-induced procrastination. If this sounds like you, what can you do today to trick your mind into focusing on your writing?

Image placeholder title

Kathy Edens is one of the bloggers on the ProWritingAid.com team where she writes about, well, writing. ProWritingAid helps writers just like you self-edit manuscripts in less time with amazing results. And it’s free to use. Drop Kathy a line at info@kathy-edens.com if you’d like to chat about procrastinating or anything writing related.

Online Course: Advanced Novel Writing

Image placeholder title
Williams_12:1

Denise Williams: Romance, Healing, and Learning to Love Revisions

Author Denise Williams recounts her experience with writing her first book while learning about the publishing industry and the biggest surprise about novel revisions.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 13th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.

shook_vs_shaked_vs_shaken_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Shook vs. Shaked vs. Shaken (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use shook vs. shaked vs. shaken on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write an exit poem.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Online Courses and Manuscript Critique

This week, we’re excited to announce courses in blogging and memoir writing, manuscript critique services, and more.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a wanting blank poem.

2020_creative_gifts_for_writers

2020 Creative Gift Ideas for Writers

Searching for something special for that special someone who loves to write? Check out our 2020 creative gift ideas for writers with a range of fun gifts for the wordsmiths in your life.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 28

For the 2020 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets write a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Today's prompt is to write a remix poem.