There are a number of correct answers to this question, the most popular and widely accepted to be, “Well, you simply just do it.”
As someone who has gone through this same issue (and still have my moments of unwavering productivity), I’ve actually found that it often has to do with a deeper issue….
The fear of failure
It’s very easy to procrastinate when finishing the project means putting yourself out there — whether that be to a teacher, a boss, a group of peers, or to the ambient universe of the Internet.
Finishing a project means standing by it, and letting it represent you.
You point at this thing and you say, “I made this. I did this.”
And the rest of the world looks at it and says, “They made this. They did this. That’s him/her.”
It’s easy to be motivated and excited in the beginning of a project because you know you’re “going through the learning phase.” Half the high comes from making mistakes and learning from them.
It’s the ending that forces you to come down, plant your feet back in reality, and say to yourself, “Ok, so how does this thing look compared to everything in the real world? And more importantly, does this thing really represent who I am?”
The hardest part about art (which is what we’re discussing here—it doesn’t matter if it’s a paper for school or the repainting of the Sistine Chapel, you’re still CREATING something) is that YOU grow faster than the project.
Rarely have I ever felt like I’ve finished something, and had the product more accurately represent myself than how I’m feeling at the time.
Usually, I’ll finish, and immediately upon looking at what i’ve made, thought to myself, “I could make better.”
That’s the endless process.
And for many of us, the reason we keep our projects hidden from the world.
We wait for that thing that we will finish and it will stand to represent the best part of us, the very best part, the part that one day we can only hope to become. Instead, it doesn’t. It represents the best part of us that was yesterday, and our quest continues.
Once I understood this concept, I found my approach to work change dramatically.
I stopped procrastinating because I realized it was my ego trying to fool me, out of fear.
When you bring awareness to the process, you can actually hear that part of yourself (many writers, for example, refer to their inner critics as their parents, scolding them for writing something “wrong”), trying to keep you from moving forward. It’s just fear. It’s a fear of rejection and being wrong and not being good enough.
Take a moment and listen to it.
Can you hear it?
Now ask him or her nicely if they’ll please stop whining for a moment so you can finish.