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Monday, November 29, 2010

Jumpstart Monday // RETHINK writer's procrastination

How often have I berated myself over the years for lacking willpower? Too many times to count.

Well it looks like I was beating myself up for nothing. According to a Daily Beast article, researchers at Columbia University’s Neurological Institute say there may be no such thing as willpower. Instead, it's more effective to think "impulse control." I like "impulse management."

Our alleged willpower is constantly doing battle with our neurological system of reward, which wants to make us feel good. When we succumb to instant gratification we're just going with the neural flow of feeling good. If it felt good before, our neurons tell us, it will feel good again and again. How can willpower stand against that neural road well traveled? Most times it can't, which is why I gained all the damn weight back after losing 65 pounds! This inner conflict is what Paul was talking about when he said,
My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a [neural] law-dominated existence? (Galatians 5:16-18, Message)
So when we procrastinate with our writing, we're simply allowing our neurons to be the master over our intentions. We're much more than instinctive animals, but if we don't manage our impulses, our neurons will go into a default mode, a.k.a. "habits."

When you're on a deadline and have mouths to feed, default mode is not going to work. Casey Schwartz writes that impulse control is the...
ability to mitigate any stimulus that sets off the brain’s reward circuitry. Unlike willpower, impulse control is not a judgment about the strength of one’s character. This is not just a politically correct revision. The concept of impulse control comes from a better understanding of the brain mechanisms that underlie self-restraint.
So today when you're pondering things you'd prefer to do over writing, realize that this is just a temporary impulse that's been wired into the circuitry of your brain. Just that raised awareness will help you make better decisions about your commitment to write today. 

Delay the impulse to do something else, and immediately gratify your desire to write!

How do you deal with writer's procrastination?

Donna Marie


  1. I suffer from hypergraphia so writing IS my drug lol...

    I procrastinate on organizing my writing into individual manuscripts. So in effort to combat my 'default' behavior I'm copying and pasting my writings into a word doc. Next up: Putting money aside for your fee. :D

  2. You made me look up hypergraphia: "an overwhelming urge to write." Ha!

  3. lol! I always joke "The only stains in my bed are INK stains." ba da dum!