“Procrastinate now! Don't put it off.” Ellen DeGeneres
Procrastination is a writer’s bane. It is the monster that stands in the way of our creative genius, blocking the road to completed short stories, edited manuscripts and market research. If personified it might look like Agent Smith from the movie The Matrix. He was a real badass, but he looked like an angry accountant with light sensitive eyes.
Like Agent Smith, Procrastination appears benign, if sullen. It sneaks up on us in ways we not only allow, but cultivate. Our internal dialogue invites the beast to lumber up to the table and dine with us. Here’s an example.
“I’ve got the whole afternoon to myself to write! Wow. Well, it’s only noon, so I have time to start the laundry and do the crossword puzzle while I eat lunch. I’ll write after that. As soon as I’m done walking the dog.”
Old Procrastination takes up residence in the recliner of our brain, pops a beer and puts his feet up. He’s smelly, and we don’t want him there, but we can’t bring ourselves to give him the boot. Once he’s settled in, it’s tough to evict him.
A little trick I’ve resorted to lately is to grab a pen in the middle of my date with Procrastination and jot down the first sentence that comes to mind, because even if I continue to procrastinate, that sentence might just simmer into the soup of a story over time. For instance:
“I was fourteen when my sister was murdered and fifteen when I saw her ghost for the first time.”
It’s only a single sentence, and not even a great sentence at that. But it was enough to launch a short story when I finally put my fingers on the keyboard. It didn’t pummel Procrastination, but it helped me work around him until I was ready to post that eviction notice.
If you’re interested, there’s an article at pickthebrain.com titled “Seven Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing,” by Seth Baker. You’ve probably heard it all before, but some things bear repeating.
Does procrastination visit you? How do you combat it? Do you give in until it passes, or do you practice avoidance like a toddler at bedtime?
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