It’s summer.

Because of my trajectory of schooling (K-12 followed by four years of undergrad and three years of graduate programs) and my subsequent career choice (teaching in public education) I have always seen summer as a reset button. A chance to take a break, relax in the sun, and gather my energy for the upcoming school year.

Summer is precious.

As a parent with school-age kids, summer is a mixed bag. I have the joy of having a relaxed schedule with my kids and ample time to play, while simultaneously wishing the school year would start again. Like, tomorrow. Because they are bored. And fighting with each other. And I don’t want to be a cruise director. I want to take a break, relax in the sun.

Like my son, here.

And, on top of it all, I am not actually on vacation for the summer. I am a writer. Therefore, I must write.

While my kids enjoy more time to chill, I find myself with less time to work. It’s hard. And the harder it gets, the more I doubt my ability to do any of it.

As that self-doubt creeps in, I fall into my Old Familiar: procrastination.

Procrastination is the action I take when I am in fear. I know what I need to do, but I fret about my ability to do it. And because the fretting is uncomfortable, I seek comfort in things that are soothing. Like…oh, I don’t know…watching t.v. or taking a nap during an hour when I could be writing.

Or, if I want to really fool myself into thinking that I am a Very Busy Person, I will do things like sweep the kitchen or fold laundry.

Sure, those things need to get done, but did they need to get done in the one hour I had available for my work? No.

What happens next is ugly. God, I should have used that time to write. Why didn’t I write when I had time? I’m never going to be a writer. This will never work. Who do I think I am? Blah, blah, blah.

You know what I’m talking about.

Quick sidebar:  Oh, poor me. Flexible schedule, home with my kids. Don’t worry, I know how lucky I am. But if we are not honest about our struggles, if we are not willing to be vulnerable about what’s hard for us, how can we connect, heal and grow as humans?

Are you willing to be vulnerable about how self-doubt and procrastination are holding you back from achieving your dreams as a writer?

Because, if you are, you know that not writing – ignoring the pull of your creativity – means that you will not ever…

…write that memoir

…start that blog

…pull together your family history

…see your name in a byline

The thing is, all of these things can happen for you. And it starts by first admitting that you want these things, and probably more. Like having your book published, maybe even becoming a bestseller. Like having 100K followers on your blog. Like going on a book tour. Like being a sought-after expert on your topic.

In the last post I talked about owning my life as a writer. And precisely because I am owning my life as a writer, I’ve decided to make a preemptive strike on procrastination.

And, guess what? It’s working. I am getting my stuff DONE.

The magic trick? I’m scheduling EVERYTHING ahead of time.

Everything.

  • when and where I am taking the kids for quality time and/or exercise (or both)
  • when I am working out
  • when I am writing
  • when I am working on my business
  • when I have to chauffer the kids to camps, classes, etc.
  • when I am meeting my husband for lunch or a friend for coffee
  • When I have to prep dinner
  • when I am intentionally doing NOTHING

Your life has different characters and events than mine, but you can do the same. It is amazingly easy.

Action Steps to Preempt Procrastination

  1. Take 30 minutes on a weekend day. Look at your calendar for the following Monday through Friday.
  2. Make sure all appointments and required things are written there. Work, kids’ commitments, anything that is not flexible.
  3. Schedule in your creative time. How much time is entirely up to you. Write it in pen if you have a paper calendar. Make it a pretty color if you have a digital calendar.
  4. Now schedule all of the other priorities you have for yourself and/or your family…bike rides, workouts, date nights. This will help you feel a sense of balance in your life.
  5. High-five yourself for doing this. But you are not quite done!
  6. COMMIT TO FOLLOWING THROUGH ON EVERYTHING ON THAT CALENDAR.

Try this strategy for one week. I think you will like what you discover.

One last thing:  Stuff happens. We miss appointments. We forget. We get scared and don’t show up.

It’s okay. Be gentle with yourself. Beating yourself up over a missed writing session only adds fuel to the fire of self-doubt.

What matters is what you do the NEXT day. If you miss an appointment with yourself, don’t give up. Show up the next day.

All is well.

Write on, writers.

Warmly,
Stephanie


P.S.  Finding the time in your schedule to write is no small feat; in fact, for many of us it feels impossible because we are SO. VERY. BUSY.

I’ve created a free resource to support you with both the thought work and the action steps required to change the mindset of “busyness” and find pockets of time in a busy life to pursue your creative dreams.

No Time? Write Anyway is a small but mighty ebook which will guide you as you notice your negative thought patterns, address them, and take small action steps to find the time to write.

It is my gift to you, because your stories are important.

Please share the love!
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