Ah the dreaded “P” word: Procrastination. I’m sure I’m not the only writer or artist to blog about this today. It’s only fitting for this particular word that it took me all day to get around to writing this post.
For me, procrastination leads to writer’s block. If I’m trucking along and cranking out a story then suddenly don’t write for few days (weeks…months…) then I start to lose traction with my characters. Picking up a story after a bout of procrastination feels like trying to force open a rusted valve. It takes a lot of force of will to make myself wade through the previous few chapters just to pick up the thread of story. Crank. Then I have to make myself get that first new sentence out. Crank. After that, the valve seems to open a little easier and the story (generally) flows.
Procrastination seems like such a harmless thing. You’re just putting off that task or bit of research until later, right? You’ll get around to it eventually. Unfortunately, I think procrastination is the biggest career-killer in the writing world. While being our own boss and setting our own deadlines sounds great, it’s actually a very dangerous thing for the beginning writer since we can easily move a due date to next month. Or to next year. Or to TBD (to be decided). Having a deadline, while stressful, can be just the motivation we need to sit our butts in the chair and get to writing.
The issue with procrastination is that it’s easier to do nothing than to do something. Inaction is almost always the easiest path. And, indeed, for a writer (or any artist) inaction means that we will never have to face the possibility of criticism of our work.
But remember that inaction also means that no one will ever praise our work either.
A little extra: My favorite post about getting your butt in the chair and writing is this one by Jim Butcher. Even if you’re not a fan of his books, he’s got a lot of real world writing advice in this post. I dare you to check it out and not be motivated to get to writing after reading it.