50 Procrastination Techniques for Aspiring Writers

by Suzannah Windsor Freeman

Carefree woman sticking out tongue

So, you’re supposed to be writing, but what are you really doing?

How much of your writing session is taken up by petty, unproductive distractions?

Perhaps these 50 procrastination techniques sound familiar:

  1. Check your email.
  2. Answer your email.
  3. Moderate your blog comments.
  4. Re-organize your documents folder.
  5. Look for blog photos on Flickr.
  6. Scan articles on GoogleReader.
  7. Catch up on some tweets.
  8. Count your Facebook fans.
  9. Change into your official writing uniform (jammies).
  10. Read up on debut author advances.
  11. List things to buy when your $100,000,000,000,000 advance comes through.
  12. Employ the phone book flip-and-point technique to generate character names for your novel.
  13. Re-arrange your desk.
  14. Browse famous writing rejection letters.
  15. Research headshot photographers.
  16. Research latest hairstyles for your headshot.
  17. Practice poses in the mirror for your headshot.
  18. Comment on agent/editor/author blogs hoping to get noticed.
  19. Write a blog post on procrastination techniques.
  20. Place an online order for new writing accessories.
  21. Research potential agents for your novel (before it’s written).
  22. Choose actors to star in the movie-version of your novel.
  23. Sharpen your pencil.
  24. Test the drawer full of half-used pens you’ve accumulated over the past ten years.
  25. Make a cup of coffee.
  26. Clean your coffee maker with vinegar (because your coffee is starting to taste funky).
  27. While waiting for your coffee maker to air-out, test every cafe in a 20-block radius for which is the most writerly.
  28. Iron your underwear (in case you get hit by a bus on your way home from the cafe with your manuscript under your arm, and are published posthumously).
  29. Prepare a statement for the press in case you become famous posthumously.
  30. Check your word count.
  31. Calculate your average word count per day, week, month, and year.
  32. Make a big list of synonyms for sparkling and misty.
  33. Look up the current short-list for the Pulitzer.
  34. Compare your novel to those on the Pulitzer short-list.
  35. Compare your first chapter to the Amazon excerpts of every novel in your genre.
  36. List ways in which your writing is better than all those published books.
  37. Design the cover for your novel (in case the art department asks for your input).
  38. List your potential pen names.
  39. Research e-readers for possible purchase.
  40. Calculate how much money you could save by purchasing e-books instead of hardcovers.
  41. Read book reviews on Publisher’s Weekly.
  42. Go through all your old writing attempts. Guffaw.
  43. Prepare a pre-writing snack.
  44. Eat the pre-writing snack whilst still in kitchen.
  45. Prepare a post-writing snack.
  46. Eat the post-writing snack early (it was looking a bit soggy).
  47. Clean your keyboard–especially the crumbs in all those little grooves.
  48. Perform eye exercises to prevent strain.
  49. Look up articles on how to overcome writer’s block.
  50. Nap. Dreams are always inspiring.

Just a thought, but perhaps aspiring writers who procrastinate too much are destined to always be aspiring.

What procrastination techniques do you really need to give up?

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  • http://twitter.com/PIBarrington P.I. Barrington

    Oh my Lord! I got to number 11 and had to stop! This is (sadly) so true of me and most likely every other writer out there,lol! In fact, last week for two days I had no internet access (no Tweeting, my biggest procrastination toy) and managed to write 9,000 words in that time! You are directly ON with the excuses listed! Both funny and apt! Bingo! Thanks for the great post!

    • http://writeitsideways.com Suzannah

      I’ve had to cut back on Twitter for this reason. I go in fits and starts, but I try not to let it interrupt my scheduled writing times. Too tempting!

  • Eporter70

    You’re reading my mind again. Stop it!

    I’d also like to add finding the perfect writing music for background inspiration. I finally just made up a playlist.

    • http://writeitsideways.com Suzannah

      I like doing that too–perhaps a little too much. Back to work! 😉

  • http://www.naorahlockhart.com naorah

    Thanks for this post! I’m just kicking off a blog and found this helpful – I’m totally guilty!

  • Nancy Needhima

    I loved it 😀 This is by far the best list I’ve read 😀

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  • Gwenm4

    Love this! Just posted a link to it on my blog as I just added a blog post this morning about my own procrastination!


  • Erica_henry

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! It is soooo true!

    I wanted to add a few things:

    – clean the highchair, dishes, laundry, dog pen, dust, etc because you just NOW noticed that it is dirty and you must get it done so you can think.
    – make lists, outlines, etc on your wip because the last ones you made got lost in your horribly messy desk.
    – oh now you notice that your desk is dirty, well, you better fix that or you will just loose your work again in the chaos.
    – check blog posts, online writer’s groups, etc to make sure that you didn’t miss anything that is important.
    – realize that it is now time to stop writing in a few minutes so you might as well not start because you don’t want to be in the middle of some brilliant idea and have to stop.

  • Marie | Four Fifty One Media

    I swear you’ve hacked my webcam and are watching me “get ready to write”!

  • http://twitter.com/PIBarrington P.I. Barrington

    This list would be hysterical if it wasn’t so true, LOL! I counted easily 49 of the ‘techniques’ that I do myself–AND I’m going to show my family that yes, PAJAMAS ARE the uniform of the author! I loved this so much I subscribed twice, lol!

  • http://vesselproject.com Keiki Hendrix

    Incredible. Very cute article and so very true.

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