November 2, 2023 12:53 pm


Are you too lazy or too much of a procrastinator to write a book or even to start one? The hardest part of writing a book (or any other project) is starting. This is as true of taking the leap and starting your book as it is of each writing session along the way.

Self-described "lazy procrastinators"

A lot of my clients come to me calling themselves "lazy" or "procrastinators. These are people who run their own businesses, are working on advanced degrees, or have academic careers - and a lot of them also have children.

No one who has built a business, started post-graduate work, or built a career - especially in a field like academia - or who has one or more children (whom they feed, clothe, and love) is lazy. That goes double for those who are both raising children and working on their business, degree, or career.

So why do these intelligent, busy, successful people feel lazy or like they "always" procrastinate about "everything"? Clearly, they're not lounging around all day eating bonbons and binge watching Netflix all day. But I've found that pointing that out doesn't convince them that they're not lazy procrastinators.

One source of feeling like they're not enough is the high expectations these clients put on themselves. The pressure from these expectations is only compounded by expectations, both real and perceived, placed on them by clients/employers and Society at large. That's a bigger problem than I can address here.

Should you stop procrastinating and "just get on with it"?

A more manageable issue I see time and again with these self-identified lazy procrastinators is that they perceive having difficulty starting a task as a failure. They say things like, "I should be able to just get on with it."

After I gently remind them to stop should-ing all over themselves, I ask why. Why is writing your book something you ought to be able to just do?

While writing a book isn't nearly as hard as most people imagine, it's also not a simple, straightforward task like making toast.

We procrastinate because we can

Starting your book, or even just your next 10-minute writing session, is hard in part because it can be put off. For most writers, delaying the writing doesn't have any real consequences.

For a business owner who's been talking about writing a book, taking a few months (or even years) longer than expected won't be noticed by most of your friends, colleagues, or clients. For academics, missing deadlines - whether they're for completing your thesis or for submitting a manuscript for publication - is more normal than meet them.

Other things in your life aren't so forgiving of such delays. You can't decide you don't have the energy to feed your kids dinner tonight any more than you can decide you don't have the energy to deliver that scheduled lecture or client work.

We procrastinate because the task is too big

Let's go back to my earlier point about toast. If you want toast with your breakfast, you simply put some bread in the toaster. But if you want to write a book, you don't simply write it. Why not? Because unlike making toast, writing a book isn't something you can complete quickly. Almost no one can even sit down and write the first draft of a book in one (painfully long) session.

"Writing a book" is really shorthand for dozens upon dozens of smaller tasks. If you repeatedly delay starting your book or you keep letting "work on book for 10 minutes" slip down and off your to-do list, please stop beating yourself up.

The problem almost certainly isn't that you you are lazy or that you procrastinate about everything. It's much more likely that you're struggling to identify which of the smaller tasks you have the time and mental/emotional bandwidth to accomplish that day.

If you're a business owner trying to write a book, download How Long Does It Actually Take to Write a Book? In that PDF, I break down the process so you can start to understand how each smaller task can be completed. 

If you're an academic who's struggling to write, How Long Does It Actually Take to Write a Book? will give you an overview of the writing process, but it's not tailored to the peculiar world of academic writing and publishing. Right now, all I have available for individual academics is 1:1 coaching (I have other support available for groups of academic writers). If you'd like a free taster session to see if that would be helpful for you, book a Let's Talk about Writing call.

About the Author

I help entrepreneurs get their books out of their heads and into print!

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