My asthma flared up making it physically difficult to breathe or sleep which affected my capacity to do the daily functions of life let alone think, study, or write. I accomplished nothing on my to-do list of writing goals, but I had a good reason and not just a procrastination excuse.
Family emergencies and many medical appointments for my husband and youngest daughter as well as myself took time away from my writing. But they needed to be dealt with and gave a valid reason why I got nothing done on current projects.
Then my asthma settled down, but I remained stuck in the rut of not writing, not working on creative projects from the to-do list. The reason morphed into an excuse without much effort. The stabilizing of those family issues saw me continue to sit and play mindless games on the phone or indulge in light reading for too many hours in the day. My reasons for not writing became excuses to procrastinate.
How do we keep writing and keep working towards our goals when valid reasons disappear and excuses take over? I believe the first step is to honestly evaluate your schedule, projects, and demands of life so you can see what needs must be addressed. Are your goals achievable? Are they what you are to be working on at this particular time? Make sure to evaluate those valid reasons like appointments and health concerns that might affect the timeline for your projects.
Secondly, I believe we need to take a long look at the ways we procrastinate from writing. I can get an overwhelming desire to organize, clean, or even play games. Anyone who knows me realizes quickly those aren’t usually high on my list, which means I’m using them as excuses to keep me from writing or editing or marketing my books. I need to ask myself if my reason is really an excuse in disguise.
Thirdly, once I have identified those excuse culprits freeloading in my life and mind, I need to evict them. How do we move beyond being stuck in the rut of procrastination?
- Pause. Take time to rest and be refreshed
- Ponder your goals, your writing, your reasons, and your excuses. Be honest with your list of responsibilities and to-do list.
- Pray and ask others to pray as well as keeping you accountable.
- Practice. Get into the habit of writing something each day. It might be a journal entry, a ramble, or the next step in your current work in progress. Use a writing prompt if necessary to get you writing as a way of becoming unstuck when reasons change into excuses.
Ralph Marston says, “When your reasons for moving forward outweigh your excuses for staying put, you will move forward.”
My list of writing projects remains long and often overwhelming. By the time something drops off the list, other ideas have appeared. Excuses pop in and I want to pull the covers over my head and not bother even attempting to continue working on anything. Then the negative voices grow louder, accusing me of being a fraud, a failure, or at least a potential failure.
However, when I take that time to pause and really ponder the writing and who I am in the light of Scripture, I realize God has given me the storytelling ability. He asks me to trust him and to use it for His glory. I pray and ask God to help me leave the excuses behind and be a good steward of the writing by learning more about the craft and practicing it until I have something to share with others.
First Peter 4:10 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV).
Time for me to lose the excuses, find the reasons to write, and see the results as I strive to become a good steward of the gifts God has entrusted to me for His glory and to build up the body of believers.
What helps you go beyond the excuses of procrastination?
Carol Harrison lives in Saskatoon. She wears many hats from wife, mother, and grandmother to writer and speaker. Looking for the inspiration in the simple things, she tries to take time to play with her paper crafting and her bear’s adventures.