9 Tips for Slaying the Procrastination Monster

One day soon, you’re going to be a highly paid writer. You’ll lounge by the pool, computer at hand, knock out a piece, email it off, and rake in a big, fat check.

You know this, because you’ve got an AWAI program telling you exactly how you’re going to get there. It’s sitting on the corner of your desk under some newspaper clippings from last November.

You tell yourself, “Ill get to it soon. Any day now. I just have to …”

I know this personally, because this is where I was four months ago.

The Procrastination Monster is stealing your time and will eventually steal your future if you let it. But the good news is you can defeat this foe by following these 9 easy tips:

  1. USE POSITIVE SELF-TALK

    What you say to yourself has everything to do with your success. If you say “I can’t do it” … you won’t.

    But telling yourself that you can accomplish your copywriting dreams is an extremely effective way to change your mindset and your actions … if you do it consistently.

    Tell yourself that you’re a writer. Tell yourself that you are learning how to succeed … and you will.

    The next time you’re tempted to put off submitting a spec because you’re afraid it won’t be chosen, say, “I’ve got nothing to lose … and it’s great practice anyway.”

  2. DON’T EXPECT PERFECTION

    Remind yourself that your copy doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be better than the current copy. And using the secrets you’re learning from AWAI gives you that edge.

  3. USE SUCCESSFUL COPYWRITERS AS MODELS

    Every successful writer was once where you are. Even Michael Masterson. Remind yourself: “Somebody is going to become a well-paid writer this year. It may as well be me.”

  4. SET UP A WORK SPACE THAT’S JUST FOR YOU

    Tell your family that you’re not to be disturbed when you’re in your office … even if your “office” is a table in the corner.

  5. SET A STRICT WORK SCHEDULE … AND STICK TO IT

    If possible, build your schedule around the hours when you’re most productive. Usually, this is early in the morning. Don’t do ANYTHING not work-related in this time period … including mopping floors, replacing carburetors, or straightening your desk. To keep yourself on track, use a “To-Do” list.

  6. BREAK YOUR WORK INTO MANAGEABLE CHUNKS

    Research shows that procrastinators have trouble facing the entire task. So you’ll have better success by breaking your work into small chunks that can be done in 15-minute increments.

    On your To-Do list, don’t write “Do Chapter 7.” Instead, write “Spend 15 minutes on Chapter 7.” Chances are, if you delve into a project for a short period of time, you’ll get into it and keep on going after the 15 minutes have elapsed.

  7. IDENTIFY TIME EATERS

    The Internet and phones gobble up precious creative time. Check email only 3 times a day. Do forum chats and surf the Net ONLY after you’ve spent your allotted time on your writing or your program study.

    Get a phone with caller ID or a message machine so you can monitor calls. Answer only your business calls during work time.

  8. SET REALISTIC GOALS

    Don’t set goals so lofty that only a superstar could achieve them. (“Write 4 controls this year.”) Instead, set a reasonable goal. (“Write 5 promotions this year.”) Break the goal into manageable objectives. After you achieve that goal, set another one.

  9. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF

    You will always find excuses why you can’t write today, why tomorrow will be better. This is a trap. Tomorrow is no different from today. If you’re able to write the day before your deadline, you can write just as well two weeks before. You CAN do it today.

Now … get to work on something. Don’t check your email. Don’t organize your desk. Don’t file those newspaper clippings. Take 15 minutes and write. Right now.

[Ed. Note: Carolyn Warren stopped procrastinating the day she returned from the AWAI Bootcamp and promptly wrote a book. Then, at the end of January, she went to New York and got an agent who is currently shopping the book for her.]

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Published: February 27, 2006

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