What Kind Of Procrastinator Are You?

Writers are fascinating creatures. We’re most comfortable talking to imaginary people, traveling to imaginary lands, and creating stories out of nothing more than words. What we also love is to avoid doing those things at all costs.

You love writing and want nothing more to spend your waking hours putting pen to paper? Sure! Right after you’ve picked the perfect pen and made the paper from scratch because you can’t just sit down and write. That would be crazy? Instead, we write after we’ve done everything else, not because we don’t have our priorities straight, but because us fascinating creatures can also be expert level procrastinators.

“No, not me,” you might argue. “I hit my word count every day…” Really? Really? Is that before or after you spend two hours watching cat videos on YouTube?

Even the most prolific writer gets caught in a procrastination loop. If you still think that’s not you, tell me if any of these procrastinator traits sound familiar…

The ‘Planning’ Procrastinator

Yes, planning is part of the writing process. Some writers can’t write without a plan for where to go in each chapter. But when planning is all you do, you’re procrastinating. That’s right. Putting off your writing because you need to make sure the character arc you already know is flawless needs to be planned one more time will not help. You’ve already spent countless hours on it. You have the plan. You have the plan of the plan. Sit down and write it!

The ‘Researching’ Procrastinator

No, unfortunately, those YouTube cat videos don’t count as research (sorry). If you spend more time fact-checking than writing those facts into your WIP, it’s time to research the physical act of writing and get to it.

The ‘When I’ve Got Five Minutes To Myself’ Procrastinator

This is akin to saying, “When it’s Monday, I’ll start my diet.” We all know Monday comes and goes and the diet won’t start until the next Monday (which will also transfer to the following Monday, riding on a wave of potato chips and ice-cream). Saying you’ll write when you have five minutes to yourself is just an excuse to put it off. Kids, fur-kids, partners, family, your job, responsibilities, and everything else you need to do to live your life are always going to be around. You can’t wait for the proverbial five minutes to yourself. You have to carve it out in between adulting, school pickups, and while the oven is pre-heating.

The ‘Cleaning’ Procrastinator

Having a messy desk is supposed to be a sign you’re a genius, but that theory flies right out the window the moment you need to sit down to write. Suddenly the mountain of washing you let build up for a week is a top priority. Never mind that the windows haven’t been cleaned in a year, or that you only vacuumed yesterday. How are you supposed to untangle plot twists if the house is a mess? Easily, actually. You write and then clean, or you write for half an hour, clean for half an hour. Alternating the task means you get to do both, not just one or the other.

The ‘I Deserve A Break’ Procrastinator

There’s taking a break after a big week of writing, and there’s taking a break after penning one sentence. And not just a five-minute break, this is a break that turns into hours, so at the end of the day, you’re left with one and a half sentences and a lot of break time. By all means, take a break when you need to for your mental and physical wellbeing, but when you’re spending all of your writing time in break-mode instead of writing-mode, you need to reset your mode.

The ‘I’ve Got To Read To Get Motivated’ Procrastinator

I’m all for reading as a motivation tool. Reminding yourself of inspiring words—either your own or your favorite authors—does a great job at getting the creative juices flowing, but when your day of writing turns into one more chapter… and you choose to read over putting your own words on the page, it’s time to acquaint yourself with a reading time limit.

The ‘Desk Needs To Be Perfect’ Procrastinator

A dust-free surface. A notepad for when a brilliant idea hits. A mug of tea. Books about writing for easy reference. A stapler. Highlighters. Staples for the stapler… maybe in that top drawer? Oh, that drawer is messy. Better clean it out now. Did I finish reading that writing book? What happened to my bookmark? What’s that sticky spot on the desk? The tissue box is empty… my tea has gone cold… Is it lunchtime yet? Now I feel like cheese. Do I even have cheese in the house? Might as well check while I’m making more tea and getting a cloth to wipe down the desk. Then it will be perfect and I can write…

Sound familiar? The desk doesn’t need to be perfect. You don’t need staples to type. You did read that writing book and there’s no need for a bookmark because you dog-ear the page like a monster. The cheese can wait. Sit down and write.

The ‘Fear Of Failure’ Procrastinator

This is a different procrastinator. If you fear failure, you’re getting plenty of writing done, you’re just not finishing it. You might rework your first chapter, or go over your first sentence again and again. Each day might be filled with endless edits and checklists of new things to scour and re-write. If you’re always writing and editing, you’re far from finishing. And if you’re not close to finishing, you don’t have anything to show to friends or beta readers. You don’t have a book that’s ready to be queried. You have a perpetual work in progress that can’t be judged because no one else will ever get the chance to read it. Is that why you started writing? If it’s not, let go of your failure fear and stop procrastinating. The world needs your book.

The ‘I’ll Just Check One Thing’ Procrastinator

This is probably the most common type of procrastinator and one that combines its powers with all the others, mocking you for being sucked into its’ time-wasting game. It’s so easy to slip into the “I’ll just check one thing” mindset when you sit down to write but don’t, it’s a trick. Resist the urge to check your email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They’ll be there waiting (they’ll outlive us all). For now, turn off the Wi-Fi and write. It’s never just one thing you’ll check. You know it. They know it. Don’t give them the satisfaction.

So what kind of procrastinator are you? A Planner? A Cleaner? A combination of Perfect Desk and Fear Of Failure? Let me know in the comments, it won’t take me long to read your answers. It can be the one thing I check before I sit down to write for the day…

— K.M. Allan

67 thoughts on “What Kind Of Procrastinator Are You?

  1. Some time ago I wrote a song about the subject. (Set to the tune of Rod Stewart’s song Infatuation)

    Early in the morning, I can’t write.

    I’ve tossed all night I’m such a sight.

    I’ve been distracted all day, can’t concentrate.

    Maybe writing a novel was a big mistake.

    Oh no, not again

    I’m still distracted

    I don’t understand.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: What Kind Of Procrastinator Are You? — K.M. Allan – Roaming Shalbha.com

  3. In my case, I’d say that writer’s block is the main cause of procrastinating. When I get stuck on how I’d like a scene to go down and can’t seem to think about a way to get past it…
    Sometimes, the only way out from being stuck is my favorite solution, “go to the hills” and walk it out.
    I promise I’ll write at least half a chapter today – and go to the mountains tomorrow 😀

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  4. Oh, everything and as much as possible! However, I think procrastination gets a bit of a bad rep these days. I wrote a post that kinda touched on the issue… I just forget what the title was. 😀 But I seem to remember that my point was that lazing about isn’t all bad, since the mind is never at rest. Not even when – especially when! – you’re doing nothing more than lying on the couch, excavating your belly-button, and flicking your findings at the ceiling.

    Of course, there’s such a thing as too much. Too much lazing about is indeed bad. But, equally, hitting those word counts too much can be bad, too…

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  5. For sure I am a mix of “I’ll just check one thing”, “fear of failure” and “cleaning.” I like to write in coffee shops so that I have no WiFi, and I’m not distracted by house work chores.
    Another great blog! You’ve captured the many reasons why writers procrastinate. This should give us all a firm kick in the right direction!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ruth Miranda

    None of the above. Honestly, and this may sound weird, but none of the above apply to me. You have to drag me away from my writing, most days. I once forgot to pick up my kid from school at the time I was supposed to because I was writing. I can procrastinate everything else – from checking my email to editing photos for my blog – but never my writing time. I try to keep it in check, tell myself I’m allowed to sit down and write IF I exercise, make the beds, check this and that before. Writing is my personal treat in a world of chores. I even treat myself to a good writing session if I finish my planned edits of the day!! Blimey, I’m not normal!!!

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  7. Great post KM. I think I am a mixture of two. Definitely the “planning” and the “ill go check on one thing”. All due to being able to work around the kiddies really.
    Ill just check to see if the dryer has finished and quickly wash those dishes…oo..and when I head back, ill have something to quick eat because I didn’t eat enough…oh, I haven’t watched that program yet, maybe Ill finish the last 10 mins of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m definitely an “I deserve a break” procrastinator!! I use the pomodoro technique, and my 5 minutes breaks often turn into even longer breaks. This was such a fun post to read. I’ll try to call myself out next time I start to procrastinate lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am currently in the “in need a break” phase, and have been for arguably too long. Real life has left be burned out and tired. But I am feeling the spark starting to return. This weekend I hope to finish revisions and a short story, and maybe in a couple weeks start on the next part of my current long-term WIP.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Oops. I meant revisions to a short story. Same project. And I finished it today. Feels good. Going to have a friend do one final read the its heading to Writers of the Future. I think this one will be better received than my previous submissions.

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  10. hahaha, I think I’m the write so as not to clean procrastinator! Though apart from that I’m the edit as I go procrastinator. I can get stuck half way through with re-reads and tweaks. Not recommended. Great post thanks

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  11. I’m probably guilty of every one over time, but “I’ll just check one thing” is my kryptonite. I often blame my lack of progress on working a full-time job and being tired. Can’t imagine what would happen if I were able to stay home and write all day! Wonderful post K.M. Writers are indeed, fascinating creatures.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Alexander. I’ve written when working full-time, I’ve written when in between jobs. I’m sure I was more productive squeezing in the writing while having to work, because staying home all day and writing allowed me to just procrastinate instead. As long as we’re making any progress, no matter how little or slow, it’s good 😊.

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      1. I understand what you mean. I get more done when the pressure is on and I have too much to do. Go figure! Anyway, the pace of the writing has to be comfortable for me no matter what anyone else says. I’m glad I don’t have a publisher breathing down my neck!

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  12. Sadly, I am all of these. I tend to bounce from one to the other. One day I need that favorite pen while the next day my desk must be perfect. Once I get into a routine I’m good but sometimes it plays hide and seek.

    As always – Excellent.

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  13. I’ve been round several loops with procrastination…generally it’s the “I have to get my work-work taken care of first” but once I get a few good days of writing in a row, I can generally stick to daily writing goals until the draft is done. It’s the getting started bit that takes awhile 🙂

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  14. Laureen

    I am also an all of these procrastinator. It helps me al lot, thinking about my texts while I cooking tea, clean the desk or do something other procrastinate-ish. Then I write down my ideas quickly and usually more and more. Most of all I work at night, in the time of silence and the least distraction. Only the cat, my text and me until the family wakes up ….

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