13 procrastination techniques for writers. (Don’t put off reading this.)
I am a terrible procrastinator. And by that, I don’t mean what you think.
What I mean is I find it very difficult to procrastinate. But I finally realized that, sometimes, a little procrastination is what a writer needs most.
Why? There are several reasons:
- Procrastination helps you relax. And a relaxed writer is a better writer.
- Procrastination gives your brain time to make connections on its own. And that’s better than trying to force them.
- Procrastination causes you to engage your brain in a different way—shifting from a frantic, anxious, high-performance mode to a more creative one.
- And finally, procrastination exposes you to a different set of stimuli, which can help trigger new ideas.
The wrong ways to procrastinate.
But while procrastination can be very good, there are some kinds of procrastination that are not so good. Because they take your mind to a place that isn’t conducive to better writing.
You know what these wrong ways to procrastinate are. But I’ll list them anyway:
- Checking emails
- Checking Facebook.
- Checking Twitter
- Reading endless blogs about your topic
These kinds of procrastination keep your mind right in that busy, word-based zone. And if you want your procrastination to actually be beneficial, you have to move away from that.
So what kinds of activities work best?
You need something physical. Or visual. Or unusual. Or pleasurable. Or some combination of these.
My top 13 procrastination techniques for writers.
- Do some kettlebell swings. Have no idea what a kettlebell swing is? Check it out here. Buy yourself a 10- or 15-pounder to start. Swing a kettlebell for a minute and you’ll feel like a new—and really tired—person.
- Lift some weights. Keep a dumbbell next to your desk, and do some curls when you get stuck. Imagine, a procrastination technique that not only helps your writing, but gives you some impressive pipes.
- Hit a heavy bag. Are you the type who gets frustrated when a project isn’t going as planned? Take it out on a heavy bag. Two or three minutes of hitting that thing will loosen up the ideas. And make people really scared of you, too.
- Doodle. Lots of people doodle. But to truly benefit from this technique, you’ve got turn yourself over to it completely. Take 10 minutes exclusively for doodling. Writing words is not allowed. This helps shift your mind into visual mode. And giving the verbal side of your mind a rest helps it work better once you get back to writing.
- Squeeze a hand-gripper. All day long you’re pounding away at a keyboard. Your hands are aching for something different. Get a Captains of Crush hand-gripper and squeeze it for a minute or two. The pumped up look of your forearms will make everyone think you’ve been typing like a demon.
- Shoot some baskets. This can be on the basketball court. With a Nerfoop. Or your own wastebasket. It’s an oddly perfect, mindless task–and one that provides instant gratification (a basket) when you get your mind into a better zone.
- Take a shower. Everyone talks about getting ideas when they’re in the shower. So how come we don’t all take showers when we need better ideas?
- Meditate. Meditation doesn’t have to be all mystical. Just sit comfortably, close your eyes, and relax. Having upright posture helps. So does having a quiet, pleasant place, like a park bench on a sunny day. The main rule? No thinking about your current project allowed.
- Take a nap. People used to tease me for taking short naps during the work day. But you know what? It always gave me ideas. When you sleep, your mind shifts to producing more creative theta waves. And sleep is also the one sure way to stop your mind from racing for a few minutes.
- Bounce a ball. I read that Paul Simon used to bounce a ball against a wall in order to help him with his songwriting. It’s really perfect: Simple. Repetitive. Mindless. Visual. Physical. So grab your favorite super ball, and find yourself a big concrete wall.
- Read some poetry. I have to admit, I’m not a poetry guy. But find the right poem, and it can have a tremendous impact on your brain. William Butler Yeats is great. And have you read “The Raven” lately? It’s incredible. I suppose Dr. Seuss is okay, too.
- Take a walk. Okay, it’s not revolutionary. But it’s extremely effective. Here’s the one unbreakable rule: you have to take your walk outside. If it’s warm and sunny, great. If there’s a blizzard, that may be even better. If it’s raining—okay, maybe reading some poetry would be good.
- Play with a mindless toy. This ball and cup game is one example. This one-person ping pong paddle is another. They provide a great combination of the visual and slightly physical, and require a level of concentration that gets your mind into a different state.
So go ahead and give these procrastination techniques a try. You can do it now—or you can put it off till later. Because either way, you’ll be procrastinating.
What is your favorite procrastination technique? Leave me a comment below.