Creative Problem Solving for Artists: Procrastination

How to Stop Procrastinating

how to stop procrastinatingHave you been honing your procrastination skills along with your art techniques? No worries, artist’s block comes to everyone now and then, and it frequently leads to procrastination. The question is, how do you stop procrastinating once you start? In this third part of our Creative Problem Solving series, Holly deWolf addresses how to stop procrastinating and get past artist’s block. Find our procrastination-fighting tips below. You can get more creative problem solving advice here.

Keep creating and good luck!


Procrastination by Holly deWolf

Procrastination is generally that missing link between productivity and being in a coma. It is completely-slacking-off time. You know you have work to do. You know you have a deadline coming. But your mind wanders off somewhere else. Everything becomes a distraction. All of a sudden an unorganized sock drawer ends up being the most important thing in the world. Next to come is the TV, and then you end up zoned out for three hours. If there’s one definite thing we all have in common, it’s procrastination.

“We will not know unless we begin.” —Peter Nivio Zarlenga

Procrastination comes from the Latin word pro, which means “forward,” and crastinus, which means “tomorrow.” It basically leads to leaving action and tasks for another time. Some see procrastination as a coping skill against the stress and anxiety of starting or finishing a job or making an important decision. This loss of productivity often creates a huge amount of guilt associated with avoiding responsibility.
Fear can be a trigger. Who doesn’t get cold feet when dealing with the unknown? As you know, we usually avoid the things we fear. Feeling unorganized or unprepared can bring on this uneasy feeling. Sometimes the wires get crossed when we’re dealing with differences between urgency and priority. The next wrong move can be a distraction that takes you away from what needs to be done right now. As in the case of writer’s block, lack of inspiration or creativity can be the culprit. After that, you could start avoiding the project due to lack of interest because you’re spending so much time overthinking it.
Lumping everything together and wanting it all done now is a form of perfectionism. We often want things to go just right. It’s hard not to want to control every aspect of a project. Let go! This release can open the mind and allow it to be easy and free. I think we can all agree that in order to kick creative block in the butt, we must find some sort of release.
A useful strategy is what I call “chunking,” or breaking the task into small, manageable steps. This could be a really good time to throw in some “free” creative thought to mix things up. Another approach can be stopping for the day and returning tomorrow with fresh eyes and a fresh brain. Lastly, try visualizing the final outcome.
The good news? Creative blocks can mean a change in direction and a fresh beginning toward something new and exciting. What you started out with might be the opposite of where you thought you needed to be. You never know—you might like the results.

Holly DeWolf is an illustrator, mentor, DYI’er, blogger and author of the book Breaking Into Freelance Illustration: The Guide for Artists, Designers and Illustrators. She currently lives in New Brunswick, Canada, living the creative freelancer’s dream.
Excerpted from Breaking Into Freelance Illustration © 2009 by Holly DeWolf. Used with the kind permission HOW Books, an imprint of F+W, a Content + eCommerce Company. Visit or call (800)258-0929 to obtain a copy.


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