3 Writing Tricks That Actually Work for the Master Procrastinator


This week’s post is all about ways to stay the course and get the words on the page. And reading all the tips from the other lovely Debs, I expected that light bulb moment. That “oh yes, here’s how I get through” genius. And then I realized something. I truly am a Master Procrastinator. Because while I’ve learned a few tricks here and there, I still have long stretches of getting absolutely nothing done. I mean, like the dishes, sure. Or all those bills I need to pay. Or that eighth load of laundry. But the words? Man, that’s hard. But here are three things that actually have motivated me to sit down and at least ponder the page.

An outline. I know that many writers are pantsers, but that’s so not me. I need an outline to start, and I need one to follow along as I go. I refer back to it often, and a lot of the time, my story will veer away from it. But that’s okay. That pristine, flowing, sensical document — which varies from 3 pages to 42 — assures me that there is meat to go on those bones, and that I’ll know exactly where to go next. Like Karma, I use Scrivener, and the little notecard outline function is a godsend. I don’t know how I functioned before this.

What really motivates me boils down to one simple word: deadline. And this can’t be some imaginary, lovely date marked on a calendar on a whim. Nope. This has to be fire under your bum, do-or-die or face serious consequences. Like from your editor. (I once wrote five chapters in one day. It hurt.) Or your taskmaster — whom you know will be pestering you at the end of the day or week to show her the pages. Lately, mine has me posting to a Google Doc — not so she can read along, but just to see that the wordcount is actually growing. Now that’s accountability. And as painful as it sounds (it is!), it works.

Money. Again, this is the journalist in me. I like the concept of getting paid for words. When it comes to fiction, of course, that’s so much harder to do. Here’s the thing: my littles are in daycare so that I can work. And when they’re back, I want to be as focused on them as I can be. So that means that the hours set for work need to be used for work. So I have to look at fiction as work. And I have to have the faith that those long hours spent on fiction will pay off in the end. (Which is hard, because it means setting aside freelance opportunities that mean a real, tangible paycheck.) I remind myself that while writing is a craft and a calling, it’s also a business. That definitely gets my butt in gear.

Author: Sona Charaipotra

An entertainment and lifestyle journalist published by The New York Times, People, ABC News, MSN, Cosmopolitan and other major national media, SONA CHARAIPOTRA currently curates a kickass column on YA books and teen culture for Parade.com. A collector of presumably useless degrees, she double-majored in journalism and American Studies at Rutgers before getting her masters in screenwriting from New York University (where her thesis project was developed for the screen by MTV Films) and her MFA from the New School. When she's not hanging out with her writer husband and two chatter-boxy kids, she can be found poking plot holes in teen shows like Twisted and Vampire Diaries. But call it research: Sona is the co-founder of CAKE Literary, a boutique book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. Her debut, the YA dance drama Tiny Pretty Things (co-written with Dhonielle Clayton), is due May 26 from HarperTeen. Find her on the web at SonaCharaipotra.com or CAKELiterary.com.

4 Replies to “3 Writing Tricks That Actually Work for the Master Procrastinator”

  1. Oh, I hear you on the ‘make it a job’ thing! I too have taken a step back from freelance to focus on fiction — and like any type writing, no one pays you for a blank page 🙂

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