What goes together like bread and butter, peanut butter and jelly, or eggs and ham?
Writers and procrastination.
Theories abound as to why; regardless, it’s hard to deny. Bottom line: (Many) freelance writers struggle to stay motivated. Here are five strategies to get moving:
1. Establish a Routine.
Do you have a favorite time or place to write? Studies show that returning to the same spot to accomplish the same task will result in brain patterns which will make completing assignments easier over time. If you prefer writing at night, make it a routine. If you prefer writing with a mug of cold coffee at your side, include it in your process. Allow your environment to aid your motivation.
2. Eliminate Distractions.
You alone know what your biggest temptations are when it comes to distracted writing. Is it the Internet — that pesky little notification ding? Maybe it’s the TV. (Oh, hold on. I just got a text.) You know the drill. Suddenly a 200-word blog writing assignment takes a month. Find a way to cut the distractions and you will marvel at your productivity.
3. Create Rewards.
Rewarding good behavior is as old as time because it’s a solid strategy. Set goals and reward your achievement. Maybe your favorite show is coming on in an hour. Perhaps your friends are going out for the evening. Whatever it is — decide what you need to accomplish in order to enjoy the activity and then hold yourself accountable to it. (That last part is key!) Become your own brutal task master.
4. Take Breaks.
“Taking a break” feels counterproductive on this list, doesn’t it? Break time certainly doesn’t result in increased word count. But sometimes what you most need is to step away from the computer slowly. Breaks improve brain function and the ability to concentrate. Just make sure — if you do take a break — you actually come back!
5. Develop Interests.
Finding the motivation to write is easier when we like the assignments. Whenever possible, say no to projects that you know you’ll put off writing. Motivation fosters motivation. If you have a long list of freelance assignments you don’t want to complete, it will hurt your overall productivity in the long run.
Now. Quit reading this blog and go write!
Trisha P is a wife, mom, writer, editor, and former water polo champ. (Seriously.) She spent several years in the publishing business and now serves as social media coordinator for a New York Times bestselling author. In 2011, she published her first book and will publish her second in mid-2015. Don’t be fooled. She spends the majority of her time doing laundry.