Overcoming Writer’s Block and Writing Procrastination

11 Nov

Writer’s Block and Procrastination often go hand in hand. While Writer’s Block is commonly thought of as an emotional or psychological barrier that prevents you from completing a written task, it is often caused by some of the same elements that accompany procrastination. In fact, the terms Writer’s Block and Writing Procrastination typically refer to the same thing! Check out this Taylor Swift parody on Procrastinating to see if you can relate!

So what causes Writing Procrastination? Well, if you view writing as frustrating, time-consuming, or otherwise challenging, you may easily develop writing procrastination. In these situations, you use writing procrastination to side-step or postpone writing that you know you must complete. This can also happen if you feel intimidated by an assignment, unsure of where to begin, or insecure in your writing.

Are you a Procrastinator?

As Dr. Boice, Professor of Psychology at SUNY Stony Brook notes, procrastinators tend to work constantly, but they may delay high priority tasks (like major writing assignments) in favor of completing low priority tasks. This often means that procrastinators must binge-work to accomplish high priority tasks by their deadlines. As noted in Dr. Boice’s study, there are a few characteristics that you can look for to determine if you are a procrastinator:

  • I feel busy and rushed in life (or in school/when completing an assignment).
  • I am more concerned with the final product than the process of completing the work.
  • Even though I am concerned with the final product, I can’t seem to get to work on the most essential activities needed to complete the assignment. (For writing assignments, this could include researching your topic or constructing an outline!)
  • I am concerned with and sometimes anxious about what others will think of my work.
  • I believe I need to write when I am inspired and study when I am in the mood.
  • I do not plan correctly for when and how I will complete an assignment.
  • I do not manage my time well; I may have a whole week to complete an assignment, but the time gets away from me.
  • I feel annoyed by the pressure to be orderly and on time.
  • I tend to work in binges, putting in two or more hours per work session, as opposed to working regularly.
  • I don’t seek information or feedback from peers or instructors very often.

So you’re a procrastinator. What now? 

Do you suffer from writing procrastination? It’s okay – all hope is not lost. Understanding that you are a writing procrastinator and that you are more prone to encountering Writer’s Block is the first step in identifying strategies that can help you address the issue and complete your assignments in a timely manner!

  1. Slow down! Think about what you need to do and construct a plan for completing it. It is often beneficial to use a planner or scheduler to track your commitments and to plan time for writing papers. This will also allow you to plan time to revise your assignment or visit the Writing Center or your instructor for assistance!
  2. If you can, try to work in brief, daily sessions. If you have a longer assignment, try to plan out 30-60 minutes each day for brainstorming, drafting, and revising the assignment. This can make a mundane or intimidating task a bit easier to manage!
  3. Begin before you feel ready. Using Brainstorming Techniques can help you to get started. Unsure of where to begin? Try constructing your Thesis Statement. (Thesis statements should offer a clear picture of where you are going in the assignment, but they can be problematic!)
  4. Take a break! Whether the work is finished or not, taking a little bit of time away from it can actually help you generate the push that you need to complete the assignment.
  5. Manage your emotions and moderate your criticism. Unconfident writers will often critique their work as they go; this can create writing procrastination and result in serious Writer’s Block. Instead, understand that your writing is a work in progress. Give yourself time to generate and articulate your ideas before you begin revising them!

Still can’t write it? Schedule an appointment in the Writing Center! For more information on scheduling an appointment, check out our Writing Center FAQ. And as always, don’t procrastinate! Writing Center appointments fill up quickly, so schedule yours today!

© Alyssa Ryan 

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One Response to “Overcoming Writer’s Block and Writing Procrastination”

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  1. Resources for Getting Started | The Christ College Writing Center - March 1, 2016

    […] Overcoming Writer’s Block and Procrastination […]

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