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Tips for overcoming writing procrastination

This blog post is based on a mini-workshop created for the Doctoral Writing Group. Many thanks to writer friends on Twitter and Facebook who contributed tips.

What's stopping you?

I don't have time!

  • Keep a time diary for a few days.
  • Is there anything you can drop or cut down on?
  • Grab small amounts of time to write e.g. 20mins
  • Can you write while waiting for things or commuting?

I get distracted!

  • Find a space/time to write.
  • Turn off the internet or social media!
    • There are apps that can help you with this.
  • Use a routine or ritual
    • Same time, place, music etc.
  • Timed writing sessions
  • Shut up & write sessions

I don't know what to write...

  • Have you planned what you want to write?
  • Structure of thesis/article/writing
  • Have you broken it down into small enough sections?
  • Do you know what the argument you want to make is?
  • Do you need to go back to notes/planning/thinking stage?
Lack of confidence/Impostor Syndrome
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect!
  • Write a first draft – get it finished – you can always edit it later.

Specific Techniques

  • Timed writing sessions
    • Pomodoro technique – 25mins writing, 5mins break – repeat
    • Write for a set amount of time every week day
  • Declare your targets - Be accountable
    • Find a writing partner or group (or just a friend)
    • Meet regularly to set targets – provide encouragement & accountability
  • Writing rituals
    • A routine or ritual trains your brain into thinking it is time to write
    • Make sure you are prepared for your writing session - plan what you are going to do and have the research materials needed.

Reflect and Reward

  • It's easy to forget what you've already done and get disheartened 
  • Keep track of, and reflect on, what you’ve achieved
    • as well as what you still need to do…
  • Hit a target?
    • Reward yourself & celebrate (just not for too long…)

University of Leicester - Writing Resources for PGRs


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