We all have our favorite ways to procrastinate. Even if our first drafts are on paper, most of us have to eventually write on a computer, where the temptation to take just two minutes to check our email, or scroll through Facebook is very strong. It’s a normal part of writing, and these “mini breaks” can actually be a good way to recharge if done in the proper way. The Pomodoro technique comes to mind, where you set a timer for 25 minutes, take a five minute break, then after a few sessions you get a longer break. By giving yourself permission to take breaks, you’re able to focus better during the time devoted to work.
My struggle with procrastination, however, takes a slightly different form. I am the type of person who needs to research everything before taking action. Therefore, my mind argues, if something goes wrong, it’s not my fault. I did everything I could (=read a lot) so it’s up to the universe to decide how things will play out. In general, this makes me relatively calm about things that stress out most people, like traveling, job hunting, or moving. I read a lot, I make a choice, and I don't spend a lot of time worrying if I made the right one, knowing I was as informed as possible before making it.
With book marketing however, it’s something I knew absolutely nothing about just a few months ago. It's not something that I can use any other life experience to help figure out. I am struggling with having too many "experts" available on the topic (seriously, google "ebook marketing" and see how many hits you get!), and I don’t know how to judge their usefulness.
During the time I set aside for writing, more often than not, I use it to research yet another blogger, software, course, or technique. I justify this as “work” because, after all, I need to know as much as I can about something in order to avoid making mistakes. However, at the end of the day, it still means I’m not actually writing. As important as the marketing is, it won’t write my book for me. And I can have the most SEO-advanced blog, and a snazzy landing page to build an email list, but without any actual content, all of it is useless.
Right now, I am far from the “research complete” state that I like to be at when making decisions, but I need to take action now so I can get back to writing. I am doing more of a trial-and-error technique, which is new for me. I am also slowly making peace with the fact that there will always be more out there, and that it is impossible to read everything.
So that’s my current struggle with procrastination: researching when I should be writing. Worrying about how to win a race when I’m barely the starting line, with my shoes untied. I do need to learn about it, of course, but deciding what to focus on in a given day – story or mailing list course, outlining or website updates – can be very difficult for me.
What’s your favorite way to procrastinate from actually writing?