Facing Your Fears About Procrastination

procrastination of a writer


Procrastination is the devil in the typewriter.  Of course, in modern times it is in the word processor.  It wants us to find a reason not to write.  It makes us make excuses such as, “I’m too tired” or “I can’t think of anything to write.”

Mark Twain once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”  Even the venerable witticist (yeah, sure it’s a word) faced it on a regular enough basis that he chose to joke about it.  But, why do writers procrastinate so often?  Is it in our genetics?  When we are created does God say, decide that this one gets the ‘writing gene’, but also must get its companion, ‘the procrastination gene’.  Apparently we cannot have one without the other.

In an article written in The Atlantic, which is called Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators; the author theorizes that writers were the kids in school who always got A’s in English, so that they became lazy about writing.  As logical as it may seem, I disagree.  I actually believe that writing can be mentally exhausting.  It requires our brains to be operating at optimal levels.  Even the most impassioned writer can succumb to the apparent laziness.  Obviously, it does not afflict writers only, as physicists and athletes can face it too.  But, writers are known for it.  Writers have set the bar very high as far as procrastination is concerned.

I believe that another factor that plagues many authors, especially fiction writers, is the lack of a definite end to the article or book.  The author decides when it is perfect, or enough, to consider it complete.  It can be daunting to realize that there must be an end to this.  Consider George R. R. Martin, who has been granted notoriety for his level of procrastination.  As of this writing he still has not finished his series, which was supposed to have been completed several years ago.  One hopes that he doesn’t expire first.

However, I think there is something more about writing that makes us simultaneously love and hate it so much.  Writing requires that we give something of ourselves.  Perhaps it is something that we will never get back.  Is it energy?  Maybe it is our creativity.  Or is it that we sacrifice something that is beyond our understanding.  We all seem to know that we don’t feel like writing when we should.  I think the thing is fear.  Fear of not writing as well as others, or our earlier work, or even as expected.  Are we imposters who are to be discovered as soon as we finish?  It is all very frightening to think.  None of us want to try to write when it is seen as nothing more than a chore.  How can a person be creative when what they are doing is merely a chore?

Whatever the cause of our procrastination, it is something that we must confront head-on.  Satisfaction should be our reward for completing the task before us.  We should face our demon and not give in to our fears, lest we procrastinate another day.


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