How do you stop yourself from procrastinating when it comes to writing?
I don’t think there is a way to stop it. I think sometimes we need to take our time doing something, because we can’t force ourselves to do something we don’t want to do or aren’t ready to do. I do that almost every other day as a write. Sometimes I have things I need to get off my chest, and other days I’m just not in the mood. I ran into that problem just this week. I was out of town and my schedule became unpredictable. I kept telling myself that I needed to write, but I just didn’t feel like it. I needed a few days to get away from it and clear my head. I needed to, because I try not to force myself to write, when I don’t know what to say. A piece should be able to write itself. If it’s forced, then it’s not going to have the potential it could have if it had been inspired.
On the days you want to write but don’t know what to write, don’t push anything complicated. Write about the chair you’re sitting in. Write about what you had for breakfast. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just something to get yourself writing. But some days, you won’t even want to write about breakfast, and that’s okay too.
But sometimes the job really does need to be pushed along. Motivation is the only thing that overcomes procrastination, not just in writing, but in everything we do in life. You just have to want it enough and you’ll get the job done.
What are ways that you can stop yourself from being your own worst critic?
You can’t. You are always going to be your own worst critic. That being said, you need to accept that and to learn how to write despite that. I came across someone in a poetry workshop today who hated his poem before he even started writing it. Because he went into it with that attitude, he decided the poem wasn’t going to be good enough. He assumed everyone in the workshop would only say negative things. I gave him the advice not to doom his poem before it was finished.
We’re all guilty of quitting a piece because we don’t think it’s good enough. We’re all guilty of saying, “No one wants to read this.” Several years ago, that was my life motto. I never wanted to finish anything because I would ask myself, “What’s the point?”
You don’t have to write to please people. You need to write because you want to. You need to feel that writing with everything you have. But most importantly, you need to keep the voice in your head away from your work. Let the words write themselves. Don’t listen to the voice in your head because it’s wrong. It’s going to bug you nonstop until you quit writing, and you can’t let it do that. Your writing is worth something when you place your heart in it, not your head.
You also need to believe in your work and believe in yourself. That’s the part I had the most difficult time with. I didn’t believe in my writing for a long time, and it’s why I didn’t think anyone else could believe in it either. It wasn’t until I started sharing my writing with others, because I believed in it, that others started believing in it too. Even now, I sometimes doubt the things I write, but I do it anyway. Every piece of writing needs work. Nothing is ever perfect. But with the dedication and the belief that we can accomplish something, we can.
There is no way to stop being your own worst critic. But there is a way to stop writing with your head and start writing with your heart. Don’t stop. Don’t think. Don’t worry. Just write until you’ve created something.