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On Procrastination As A Writer, by Anthony Riches

Procrastination is, as we all know, the thief of time. What’s less well known is that most authors are world class experts when it comes to the art of procrastination. Allow me to illustrate.

I think about writing almost all the time. I think about writing when I’m shaving in the morning and then do it some more in the shower afterwards. In meetings, when presented with anything other than a code red emergency with whatever project it is that I’m running there’s a part of me that’s spinning away at a nice high rate of revolutions, teasing away at whatever part of the latest book I’ve reached. When dinner company proves tedious (hardly ever, if you’ve ever been a dinner companion, I hasten to add) the temptation to drop into plot reverie is hard to resist – and directly proportional to my alcohol intake up to that point – although once past that magic tipping point I’m suddenly and irretrievably into what my wife has come to know as ‘oh no, not again’. Last thing at night, as I snuggle into my pillow, I do what? You guessed it, I have one last good think about plots and characters, albeit in an eyes rolling back in their sockets kind of way.

Why, I wonder, do I find the actual act of writing so very difficult to follow through on? All that thinking about it’s all very well. However, when I get in front of a screen with time to write the urge evaporates in seconds. Take this morning. It’s almost 1:30pm now and today I have:

  • Answered about 20 emails (I know, it’s best to leave them for later)
  • Done my expenses for the month
  • Downloaded some songs on iTunes
  • Listened to music
  • Done the Telegraph crossword, although I’m still struggling with 4 across, six letters, ‘helmet’ if anyone’s got any ideas.
  • Said yes to a lovely invitation to drink cocktails at the Groucho (woohoo!)

Have I done any writing? Have I heck as like.

So what is it that stops me writing? It’s not lack of inspiration. I’m overflowing with the muse. I’ve got a twenty five book story arc and I’m only just starting book seven. It’s not lack of opportunity. I’m planning not to work for a month or two, time enough to break the back of The Emperor’s Knives if I have the will.

I think by now that you’ll have twigged what the real problem is. My unerring self-knowledge highlighted the problem to me quite a long time ago, the first time I ever sat down to turn that half-baked idea about Romans on Hadrian’s Wall into prose. I’ve suffered it ever since then, the urge to do something, anything, to save me the bother of having to sit in front of a screen and come up with half decent work. Let’s not dignify it with that old phrase ‘love being a writer but hate writing’ either. I’m just plain lazy.


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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Hear hear! 🙂

    October 10, 2013

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