The Procrastinator’s Guide to Writing That Thing You Need to Write

I started wondering where Dean Rieck’s latest guest post was a few weeks ago. I mean, he’s usually… well… not so erratic in delivering. Just a bit. Sometimes. Anyways, he sent in this great guest post, and I wanted to post it up on a Friday, but then there was… that… thing I had to do. And so it was going to be Monday, but then I got busy. Real busy. Color coding stuff. And… well, it’s a bit late but… I finally got this post up for you to read (to the end) and enjoy. I’m sure none of you can relate to this. At all. Nuh-uh. No sirree.

Sleep in. You work hard. You’re tired. You deserve a few more minutes of shuteye.

Break your alarm clock. You know you’re sleeping in. You don’t need that thing to keep beeping at you.

Fix a healthy breakfast. You’ve promised yourself you’ll stop munching on half a box of donuts and chugging a gallon of coffee every morning. Oatmeal, grapefruit, orange juice. That’s what you need.

Look for the donuts. You don’t have any oatmeal, grapefruit, or orange juice.

Make a grocery list. Include oatmeal, grapefruit, and orange juice. Oh, and a new alarm clock.

Floss. Those donuts will rot your teeth. And you promised your dentist you’d floss at least once a day from now on. Use the ribbon floss, not the round kind that gets stuck in your teeth.

Revise your grocery list. Add ribbon floss. Mint flavored.

Call your dentist. Ask how to get that round floss out of your teeth.

Check your voice mail. You thought you heard the phone ring this morning but you aren’t sure. Could have been a dream.

Check your email. You want to get it out of the way so you can start your writing project.

Wait for inspiration. You want to write something special. An idea will hit you as soon as all that donut sugar kicks in.

Doodle on a note pad. This should shake things loose and get the ideas flowing. Draw a smiley face. Draw a house with a curly wisp of smoke rising from the chimney. Draw that 3-D box where you can’t tell whether the open end is pointing up or down.

Sharpen pencils. Doodling doesn’t work with a pen because you can’t erase mistakes.

Go to OfficeMax. You don’t have pencils. But you’ve been meaning to buy some. There’s something comforting and familiar about good old-fashioned number 2 pencils.

Get a sharpener while you’re at it. Yeah, they still make those. Look for your favorite color. Purple. No. Green.

Browse the folder section. You’re into GTD now, so you need 43 folders to get organized and productive.

Have lunch out. Might as well. Good thing you brought your laptop. You can get some work done. You love to work in public restaurants. It makes you feel so …. productive.

Watch some YouTube videos. Who are you kidding? You can’t eat and type at the same time. Just relax. The video with the talking monkey is a hoot.

Post the monkey video on your Facebook wall. Your friends will love it.

Tweet about your writing project. You really need to tweet more often. You’ve been ignoring your social media accounts.

Go home and check your voice mail again. You’ve been gone longer than you expected.

Listen to your voice mail message. You’ve never liked it. You had a cold when you recorded it.

Write and record a new message. It’s important to present yourself professionally. Record it several times to get it just right.

Look for some inspirational writing music. You should have thought of this before. Music always helps you think of ideas and write better.

Make a categorized list of inspirational writing music. It will save you time and make you more productive next time.

Get out that fancy quill pen and foolscap your grandmother got your for Christmas. This is the way writers used to write. Maybe this will get you in the right frame of mind.

Look up “foolscap” on Wikipedia. I mean, what the heck is that anyway?

Dust your desk. Who can work at a desk that looks like this?

Straighten up your files. You have notes and background information all over the place. Time to start that 43 folder thing. No time like the present.

Oh, hell, clean your whole office. It’s a mess.

Check your Facebook page for comments on that monkey video. Nothing? Okay, back to work.

Write the headline of that thing you’re writing. Hey, not bad. You’re off to a good start.

Program your DVR. Sheech. You almost forgot. That program is on tonight and you don’t want to miss it.

Get a cup of coffee. You always feel a little sleepy in the afternoon.

Write the first sentence. Nice. Now you’re starting to feel the momentum.

Look at your email. Wow. Where did all that stuff come from? Better read through it all and handle it now. Inbox to zero, baby!

Check Facebook again. Why isn’t anyone commenting on that monkey video? You need new friends.

Color-code your day planner. You’ve been meaning to do this for a long time. Think carefully about which colors you use for which items.

Read that long chain email someone forwarded to you. You hate those things. But this one is really well-written.

Forward that chain email to all your friends. You don’t believe in the bad luck thing if you break the chain, but why take chances?

Write a detailed apology to the friend you sent that chain email to who asked you not to send stuff like that anymore. You just forgot. It was an honest mistake.

Think about where you’d like to go for vacation. You’re really stressed and deserve some down time.

Write the first couple paragraphs. Okay. You have a headline, a strong first sentence, and now a couple paragraphs. You might make that deadline after all.

Increase the type size on your computer so it’s easier to read. Seriously. Why do they make the type so small?

Call technical support. You don’t know how to increase the type size on your computer and you screwed up something.

Post a rant on Facebook. All your friends are ignoring you. Did they even watch the video? Idiots.

Stare at your computer screen for a while. Uh oh. Time to panic. You’ll never get this thing written. And why try to rush it? You can’t rush good work.

Send an email to your client. Explain how busy you are and that you won’t have that thing written on time. Ask for another couple days. Apologize profusely.

Make a to-do list for the next couple days. You have some time on your hands now and you should make the most of it.

Reorganize your GTD folder. If for no other reason, do it for the irony.

Dean Rieck is one of America’s top copywriters and never, ever procrastinates. Usually. He stays busy writing for his many clients and providing copywriting tips for smart copywriters at Pro Copy Tips. He really wants you to visit his blog today. Don’t put it off.

Want to really kick procrastination? Check out these two great resources to finally getting it done:

You'll be on your way to finishing what you've been putting off.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.