Advancing communications measurement and evaluation

Give your writing a proxy and then get it done!

I am a perfectionist. This may sound like A Very Good Thing. After all, who wouldn’t want to be perfect, flawless or ideal? But, in fact, it’s actually bad for me. Perfectionists often have trouble getting started on things (like writing) because they want conditions to be perfect. They have trouble finishing because they worry what they’re doing will never be good enough. And they are more inclined to suffer from depression because they seldom meet their own very high goals. Perfectionism is also terrible for the people surrounded by it.

For the last decade or so, I’ve been working to become more relaxed and less compulsive. Probably my biggest accomplishment is that I am now able to write a thoroughly crappy first draft of any article or report and not get too twisted about it. How have I managed that? I finally understand I don’t have to show my first draft of anything to anyone else! As well, I know I can spend an almost infinite amount of time editing if I need to. Another accomplishment: I am no longer tortured by my books. I am NOT talking about my book 8.5 Steps to Writing Faster, Better. http://www.publicationcoach.com/my-book/ I had, in fact, ended my writers’ block by the time I produced that one. I am talking about my financial books. Thank goodness, I solved that problem by outsourcing — hiring a professional bookkeeper. Before I discovered the outsourcing idea, I was complaining to my friend Eve about my financial books, she suggested that I might need a proxy. The idea, she explained, comes from the blog The Fluent Self https://www.fluentself.com by Havi Brooks. Havi’s concept is that when there’s something you need to do but you put it off, you should simply give it a different name. For example, she suggests that someone who wants to write a novel might call it “learning how to play chess” (or whatever the topic of the book is about.) I think this works best when what’s really holding you back is fear. By changing the name of the project — even though this is only a “pretend” exercise — you divert the attention of your inner critic so it doesn’t attack you. Instead, the critic thinks you’re doing something simple and non-threatening, and so it lets you do it. No more full-scale resistance. In this manner, I have decided that the next time I face something I don’t want to do, I’m going to call it organizing my office (which is actually pretty darned organized right now.) That might not sound like fun to you, but I love organizing. That’s why I’ll,

* Figure out the steps I need to take in order to organize my office.

* Determine how I can lower my standards so that it’s even easier to organize my office.

* Create a schedule that allows me to organize my office for 25 minutes each day.

* Give myself plenty of reminders about how much I really want to organize my office.

I no longer procrastinate about writing but if you do, you might try giving it a proxy. Call it something else that sounds much more attractive to you. Perhaps you are going to learn a new recipe? Maybe you need to draw some pictures? Or let’s say you are simply want to work on an email to a friend.

Give your writing a proxy and then get it done!

Daphne Gray-Grant

Daphne Gray-Grant

A former daily newspaper editor, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach and the author of 8 1⁄2 Steps to Writing Faster, Better. She offers a weekly newsletter on her website Publication Coach. It's brief. It's smart. And it's free.
Daphne Gray-Grant
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