One of the toughest things for writers (and really anyone working on anything) is learning how to outsmart procrastination. Our minds are so resistant to being used, and they’re just as wily at coming up with ways to distract us. A quick look at Twitter? Well, sure! Just a peek at Facebook to make sure I didn’t miss out on something super important? Definitely necessary. Another break to search blogs for inspiration? Why not?
We all know the end result of this: we put off the project, and the longer we put it off, the harder and more intimidating it seems. Whether we’re writing a blog post, a book chapter, or a business plan, it will probably require using more than 5% of our brain. But social media and other passive activities requires so much less energy from our brains–biologically, we’re hardwired to prefer these “easy” activities, like watching TV, because they use less of our energy than “difficult” activities, like writing and brainstorming.
But isn’t there a secret way to trick our brains into preferring these difficult activities?
No. Sorry to be the bad guy, but just no. Any successful writer, blogger, or business owner will tell you that what separates the n00bs from the pros is one simple thing: showing up. Sitting your butt down at your computer every damn day and just writing. Even when there is a ton of good TV on, and dishes in the sink, and that online article you want to read, and look, your desk really needs to be dusted. (Well, at least mine does!)
As soon as you identify this urge to jump down the rabbit-hole of procrastination, you can act against it. Close all your tabs, quit all your computer programs, put your phone in another room, and put on your mental blinders to any and all domestic to-dos. Now open your project. Congrats–you’ve officially shown up!
Do this every single day for years, and you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish.
As a handy reminder of this, I love to turn to this great Brené Brown quote: “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” So I decided to turn it into an art print, which you can download for free here! You can print it out on a standard size sheet of paper, frame it, and hang it near your workspace.
The hope is that, instead of letting your eyes wander to your phone or another distraction, you’ll focus on Brené’s wise words and be inspired to just show up. And if you’d like, you can also pair it with this Anne Lamott art print to remind yourself that once you show up, you have to start somewhere.
Click here to download the art print. Here’s wishing you a week of showing up!