Are you an awfulizer?

Word count: 630 words

Reading time: 2.5 minutes

If you’re an “awfulizer” who procrastinates until deadlines are near (or passed!) here are five writing tips to help you become eager and optimistic about writing….

Awfulizers are people who expect the worst. They are the Alexanders of this world, constantly experiencing one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day after another.

I used to be an awfulizer about writing. I’d delay and procrastinate until I had almost no time remaining and then I’d write quickly and efficiently. Ironically, of course, this was because I had no time left. And I’d have suffered unspeakably, first.

Do you do the same thing with your writing?

Here are five tips for turning yourself from an awfulizer into an eager and optimistic writer:

  1. Resolve to spend just five minutes on your assignment, the moment you receive it. I know, I know. When a deadline isn’t imminent, it’s awfully temping to starting thinking about something else. Don’t let yourself delay! Did you know that runners often resolve to pull on their shorts and shoes and head out the door every day — permitting themselves to stop after only five minutes if they really, really hate it. The thing is, most of them then stick with running for 30 minutes or longer. But I’m not even trying to talk you into 30 minutes of writing. Just five! And use them to accomplish tip #2.
  2. Break the job into small parts. As a former awfulizer I know I used to imagine all my writing jobs as both enormous and insurmountable. Now I simply break them into much smaller tasks that even my tiny brain can grasp. For example, instead of regarding this 500-750 word column each week as a single job, I see it as five: (i) thinking of the topic (ii) creating a mindmap, (iii) writing a rough draft, (iv) editing, and, (v) posting it. None of these tasks is overwhelming so I’m usually enthusiastic about doing each of them.
  3. Refuse to visualize the job as a big one. Even if you break your writing job into a series of smaller tasks, part of you may still picture it as one big, loathsome piece of work. If your mind is playing that trick on you, rename the job. Call it something else that you regard as fun – say, eating chocolate cake. Writing? No, you’re not going to do that! You’re going to go eat some chocolate cake. This trick is called finding a proxy. Find your proxy if you need to.
  4. Figure out ways to make writing more fun. I love writing now because I make it entertaining. One of my favourite things is to write while I’m eating lunch. I go to an inexpensive restaurant, take my Alpha Neosmart and write a column while I’m eating. (Often I get a first draft of this column written while I’m waiting for my food.) Other entertainments: Listening to music, trying to write faster than my kitchen timer, or attempting to write a column without ever using the verb “to be.”
  5. Reward yourself. I think it’s almost universally true that we don’t reward ourselves nearly enough. I’m really good at reminding friends to celebrate their accomplishments but I seldom remember to do it myself. In fact, after launching my blog (an enormous undertaking that took me more than a year) it didn’t occur to me to reward myself. When a friend pointed out the omission I immediately bought myself $100 worth of books for my Kindle. (Rewards should be as lavish as you can afford when the job is big.)

Remember: while we can’t always control the writing we have to do, we can control how we feel about it. Don’t let a writing assignment make your life miserable. Instead of being an awfulizer use these tips to become awfully efficient!

Want to write faster, better? Check out my book.

Want even more support? Consider some writing coaching.