Having just undergone an enforced period of saying-things absence due to the need to write my university dissertation, I feel I am very well equipped to say things about procrastination.
A writer’s life is made up of 5% thinking, 8% writing, and 87% procrastinating. Every writer knows that. But the range of avoidance tactics a writer will employ to avoid sitting down and actually doing some writing is nothing short of astounding.
Don’t write that short story, have six slices of toast and Marmite instead! And then, hell, make a cake! Then eat the cake! And then because it’s time for dinner, make dinner – and eat dinner! And hey presto, not a single word written! Hurrah!
Hang on, are you really about to sit down and try to plot that novel you’ve been meaning to write for five years? Good gracious, woman, don’t you realise that the back of the tumble dryer needs cleaning? I mean, there really isn’t a moment to lose! Run, run from your desk and your evilly blinking Microsoft Word cursor, and clean! Because after you’ve tackled the tumble dryer, just take a moment to think: have you ever cleaned out the dishwasher filter? Hmm? Have you? Well maybe you should do it! RIGHT NOW!
Oh, YouTube. How many bestselling novels would I have written if it weren’t for your irresistible videos of people falling into open manholes and drunk grandmas burping the alphabet. I’ll just sit down and do a spot of writing – got a good character I want to develop, explore some really interesting themes and make a social commentary on the declining morals of the 21st century OH BUT HANG ON, THERE’S A KITTEN THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT’S SAYING I LOVE YOU WHEN IT MEOWS!!!!!!
No one really likes exercise. No one would choose to do exercise over something fun like, say, watching videos of babies farting on YouTube. But when it’s a choice between sitting down to try and work out that rather fiddly bit of plotting, and running literally anywhere, then it’s running, every time. You suddenly realise how idle you’ve been recently, how you haven’t done any exercise for AGES, and, heavens to Betsy, if you don’t do some RIGHT NOW you will wake up tomorrow and be eighty stone and as it’s such a lovely day you must run out of the door NOW and just RUN RUN RUN AS FAR AWAY FROM YOUR LAPTOP AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN BECAUSE ISN’T EXERCISE BRILLIANT??
Or you start doing weights. Lots and lots of weights. Don’t write that synopsis, pump some IRON. You know bodybuilders? How do you think they got so big?
5. Developing a New Interest
Isn’t it funny, that every time you open up a blank Microsoft Word document to start a new story, you suddenly realise you’ve developed a burning interest in 13th century architecture? Or French knitting bobbins. Or how hemorrhoids form. And luckily, because your computer is connected to the internet, you can close that blank Microsoft Word document and spend six hours Googling your newfound interests! Isn’t the internet WONDERFUL?
6. Running Away
The most desperate of procrastination attempts. You can sit in front of your laptop all you want, you can twirl that pen around between your fingers, you can open and close all your creative writing books, but there’s no escaping the fact that you’re going to run away. I did that once. I got in my car and drove 40 miles to Reading. For literally no reason at all. When I got to Reading, I drove back again. Killed three hours. No writing. Job done. Just run for the hills.
Procrastination is all well and good. It is part of life’s rich tapestry. It is only when your time has come and you’re in the queue at the pearly gates that you might regret it.
- Five Reasons to Stop Procrastinating (and Start Writing) (joeberhardt.com)
- Writers are beating procrastination by blocking their internet access (inktuition.net)