“What is deferred is not avoided.”
Let’s call it “research” that this post took me two weeks to sit down and write. And while we’re at it, let’s look up the etymology of the word “deferred…” I don’t usually avoid writing tasks, but for this one, I wanted to get in that Wikipedia-reading, Amazon.com-amassing, closet-cleaning, telephone-calling, gym-going(?!), everything-but-writing space that we all have set up a stall in at some point or another. Yep, procrastination is a busy place! And a loud one too—what with that albatross around your neck crooning, “Don’t forget about that chapter/article/cover letter/essay you’re supposed to be working on—I’m watching you, you schmuck!”
Everybody knows that writing well is hard. That’s one part of why we avoid it. Clear, compelling thought on paper happens through a process of testing and refining your ideas through language. And this takes time and care. So some of what looks like procrastination may sometimes be fallow time when the seeds of your ideas are actually hard at work, germinating underground. And this is tricky stuff, as there’s a fine line between this puttering generative phase and the wish-littered wasteland of classic procrastination.
This is where an editorial consultant (doubling as a writing coach) comes in. I’ve got jujitsu for habits that block good work. I’m skilled in energizing writers and making projects manageable. I love helping you get your rough ideas on paper and then working with you to refine them in the next draft. I can help you streamline your creative process so you keep moving your project to the finish line. Thanks to smart drafting tactics, the people who work with me find that their final product exceeds what they thought they could do on their own.
Speaking of projects and finish lines, it’s time for me to get back to work on other things. But before signing off, here are a few cool procrastination-foiling tools that a lot of writers love:
This first one shuts you out of your Internet for a set period of time so that you can dive into your writing without the wonderland of the Web distracting you. As any fiction writer can tell you, the Internet is friend and foe. Countless good hours of writing are lost to the seemingly noble (and endless) diversions of sites like Wikipedia where you can learn about the lifeways of millipedes and milliners, the language of lapwings and Laplanders, the inner workings of dump trucks and domesday machines, while soaking up the mad sonic skills of Gustav Mahler’s 9th or George Clinton’s Mothership Connection…Or watching vital educational videos like the one I’ve posted here that just begs you to fritter away four minutes of your life–in the very name of “procrastination”! Here’s a way to put wax in your ears against all those beguiling siren songs (at least for a few hours):
Another particularly portable tool is based on a simple exercise you can do yourself:
Just agree that you’ll sit down and work for only 20 minutes on your project. That’s all you have to do. It’s amazing how effective this wee trick is in moving you from inertia to action. You stop standing at the edge of the pool, staring at the water–it gets you to finally dive in. And you’ll find that a lot of drafting can be done in these 20-minute “all-in” swims.
Here’s an app developed by a creative writer that makes a game of that same concept:
No pressure, of course.