If you aren’t ready to evaluate your writing process completely (and it’s okay if you aren’t), then you could try just listing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.For instance, perhaps you are great at creating thesis statements, but you have trouble developing arguments. Or, your papers are very well-organized, but your thesis and argument tend to fall a little flat.
Identifying these issues will help you do two things:
1) When you write, you can play to your strength; and
2) You can choose one weakness and do something about it when you DON’T have a deadline.
Now, doing anything when you don’t have a deadline may sound strange to a procrastinator, but bear with me. Let’s say you’ve decided that your writing is too wordy, and you want to work on being more concise. So, some time when you don’t have a paper—but you do have a free hour—you waltz into the Writing Center and tell your tutor, “Hey, I want learn how to write more clearly.” You confer, and you come away with some simple strategies for eliminating wordiness.
Here is why this may make a difference the next time you write a paper, regardless of whether or not you have procrastinated (again!): You print out your draft. It’s 1 a.m. You go to bed.
The next morning, you read over your paper (it’s due at noon). You say to yourself, “Hmmm, I notice I’m being too wordy.” BUT, rather than concluding, “Oh, well, it’s too late, there isn’t anything I can do about that,” (as you may have in the past), you can choose to employ some of what you learned (previously, when you weren’t under the gun) to make your writing more concise. You edit the paper accordingly. You turn it in.
When your teacher hands the papers back the following week, there are far fewer instances of “awkward,” “unclear,” etc. in the margins. Voila! You’ve made a positive change in your writing process!
What does this have to do with procrastination? Well, making one small change in your writing process creates momentum. You begin to feel more positive about your writing. You begin to be less intimidated by writing assignments. And—eventually—you start them earlier, because they just aren’t as big a deal as they used to be.
Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses in your writing gives you a sense of control. Your writing problems are solvable problems. Working on your writing when you don’t have a deadline helps you gain insight and momentum. Soon, writing becomes something that, while you may not look forward to it, you don’t dread quite as much. Thus, you don’t procrastinate quite as much.
This strategy also accounts for the fact that if you perceive procrastination as having been successful for you in the past, you aren’t going to give it up right away