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How to Focus on One Writing Project at a Time

Procrastination can manifest in many forms

Remember the story of the The Boy Who Cried Wolf? It’s one of Aesop’s Fables in which a lonely boy who is tending his sheep repeatedly cries “Wolf!” to seek attention. The first time his cries of alarm are heard, the villagers arrive. The second time it works again, yet the villagers are a little more dubious. However, shortly after this a real wolf arrives and begins attacking his flock. The boy again cries “Wolf, Wolf,” even louder than before. But this time the villagers, who have been fooled twice already, are certain the boy is lying again and is flock is eaten.

The moral of the story is simple:

A liar will not be believed, even when telling the truth.

Good intentions can seem positive at the time, but they lack integrity. The same goes for having too many projects on your plate at any given time. Trust me, I speak from experience. I have a Scivener project folder full of forty two unfinished novels and short stories — a few I’ve been telling friends will be my first novel.

So what’s going on when we don’t finish projects? The answer is simple: procrastination.

Procrastination often manifests in five different types:

Each of these types contributes towards incomplete projects and work together to sabotage or stunt your progress. You may be more a perfectionist than an overachiever, or perhaps you succumb to daydreaming about your next writing project rather than actually committing to it. Let’s break down some of these types to gain a better understanding of procrastination.

‘The Perfectionist’ often won’t start a task due to a fear of failure. However, that failure corresponds to not completing the task absolutely perfectly. A typical perfectionist often believes (at some level) that unless a project blows people away, or is Nobel Prize worthy, it’s a failure. Unrealistic expectations can quickly turn into a task that is a mountain to…

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