Research on writers' emotion regulation and procrastination - 2022 project.
Thank you if you were one of the 236 writers who took part in the research project.
Last year I conducted research exploring the relationship between fiction writers' emotion regulation skills and the severity of writers' procrastination problems. Why? Because in my work with writers procrastination is reported as a common and often troubling problem. Also, because most procrastination research has involved university students - whose procrastination tendencies may or may not be relevant to writers.
Some years ago, I researched writers' procrastination as it related to mindset and beliefs about self-regulation. That research showed that writers' procrastination appeared to be linked to self-regulation especially related to negative emotions. That is, those with better capacity to self-regulate when encountering negative emotions experienced less severe procrastination problems than those with poorer self-regulatory capacity.
Last year, my research examined the specific emotion regulation skills that were associated with relatively less severe procrastination problems. The results showed that the emotion regulation skills that are associated with less severe procrastination problems for writers are different from those that previous research found to be linked to mental health symptoms and academic procrastination. When I get the opportunity I will publish the results formally, but considering the number of writers who took the time to be part of the research, I also wanted to provide the key finding here. In a nutshell, most other research has found that the most important emotion regulation skills are modifying, tolerating or accepting negative emotions. These findings have emerged repeatedly, whether in relation to mental illness symptoms, first responders coping with traumatic experiences, or university students' procrastination. However, for writers the key skill linked to less severe procrastination problems was that of being ready to confront negative emotions. What this skill involves is the capacity to stay focused on a (writing) goal, and persist, even in the presence of negative emotions. The other skills are also important in the writing context, but the skill of staying focused on the writing and not getting thrown off course by negative emotions was significantly more important for writers than the other key skills.
Considering the unique challenges writers encounter in the process of creating their work, I think these findings make perfect sense. I am now considering developing specific emotion regulation training for writers with the hope of helping writers to develop the skills that seem to be related to less severe procrastination problems.
Thank you again to each writer who took the time and energy to take part in this research - Alison