10Let’s start by defining the problem: What does it mean to procrastinate? Procrastination can be defined as a voluntary, irrational, delay in action despite the expectation of a potential negative outcome. While there are many different ways people procrastinate in life, I am going to focus on a really critical issue: how it affects our ability to communicate through writing.

When it comes to writing, have you ever thought any of the following:

“How do I get started?”
“What if my idea stinks?”
“But – it’s not ready to share until it’s perfect”, Or…
“Hmm, I’ll just do it tomorrow…”

If you can identify with any of these statements then you might be a PROcrastinator. This is the first post in a 4-part series that will help you learn more about what procrastination is (and what it isn’t). You’ll also learn what your biggest writing demons are and what you can do to begin writing with ease using several concrete strategies to help you get things to DONE.

Writing is an essential skill needed for so many areas in our lives today. It’s a necessary skill to master for success – in academics, in business, even in our social networks. Students need to write to learn, to take notes and to study. In professional settings, the ability to write well can factor into decisions about hiring and promotion. It brings rewards of visibility and portability. People need to write to think, to process and communicate their ideas and to integrate new ones (e.g., keeping idea journals, sending emails). And, writing offers a unique kind of self-education. But, for most people, writing is a skill that is seldom developed after high school.

Procrastination affects performance

The ability to write and to do it well is critical for success. Yet when it comes to writing,  many people suffer from writer’s’ block. Many studies show a significant negative relationship between measures of procrastination and measures of performance. If you’ve ever experienced writer’s’ block, then you know how painful it can be to break through and get work done.

Knowledge = Power

It turns out that there are many different types of writers’ block that cause people to procrastinate. And each of these challenges require different strategies to break through. The first step to taking back control of your writing is to understand why you are struggling to get work DONE. A great resource to help us move forward is a questionnaire designed by scientist Robert Boice in the early ‘90’s called “The Blocking Questionnaire”. It assesses your writing problems to identify the specific reasons why you are blocked. Armed with this information, you can then take explicit and specific action to solve your writing issues. I have taken this tool and made it available online. You can find at the following link: http://goo.gl/LYNIOY

In my next post, we’ll begin looking at the seven different types of blocking that can cause problems for your writing. But first, you need to know more about what exactly is causing issues for you. So, click on the link above, and answer the questions. It can take a while, so give yourself a good 15 minutes of uninterrupted time.  When you learn your results, take a screen capture, or print them out… the survey is designed to remain anonymous, so you won’t be able to return and see your results again later. To do so, you’ll need to start the whole questionnaire over again, which would be a major pain. Then join me next time as we start to tackle your personal writing demons and clear the way for you to get things to DONE.

Find your spark and start a fire now!