Top 5 Ways to Procrastinate–and the danger of doing it

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Ulysses and the Three Sirens, by François-Marie Firmin

Ah procrastination, you beautiful, evil temptress. Like a siren, you lure the unwitting writer into your welcoming arms, never letting on your plan to lock the author in a vice-grip and pull her to a watery grave. You smile sweetly, but once your victim is caught, he smells your breath of rotting cabbage and natto (if you’ve never smelled this Japanese treat, you’re lucky–click the link. I dare you).

Well, I’m sure we’ve all done it at SOME time in our lives. Maybe just this morning when you knew it was your turn to clean the damn cat litter, but you figured a quick round of Candy Crush was probably in your best interest before you dug into the feline Almond Roca.

But when you engage with this vile villain, invite him in when you should be writing, the result is more serious than a put-out cat. Your creativity atrophies. Your fingers grow stiff and your mind sluggish. Worse, you begin to think perhaps you really aren’t a writer after all, and it’s all a big joke you’ve been putting over on everyone. Procrastination can lead to lots of negative thinking. That’s not good. If there’s anything worse than procrastination for your artistic endeavor, it’s self-doubt, which can lead to self-loathing. Really not good.

But, sometimes avoiding the siren-song of procrastination is easier said than done. Even though you know it’s not good for you (just like that dozen donuts calling, “I’m hot! Eat me now!) you sail close to the rocks. Next thing you know your at the bottom of the ocean with the bottom-feeders.

That said, here are MY top five ways to procrastinate when I should be knuckling down and pounding out at least two chapters on my latest novel.

  1. Clean the cat litter. I can’t have an angry cat tromping on my keyboard while I’m typing, with little chunks of dried kitty-AngryCat-266x300litter falling off and getting wedged in the keys. That would not be conducive to writing my two chapters.
  2. Dust off my keyboard, including using a Q-tip to clean in and around the keys to get out all the kitty-litter. There’s nothing like a pristine keyboard to inspire you to use it. Am I right?
  3. Make my children some cookies. OK, this isn’t entirely procrastination, as the cookies could become much needed fuel, along with a nice cup of English Breakfast tea (Yorkshire, please) when I do sit down and pound out those two chapters. Writing burns a lot of calories which will need to be replaced.
  4. Make a cup of tea. (See #3). BTW, I have a cup of Taylors of Harrogate, Yorkshire beside me right now. Call it field-research for this post.

  5. Tidy the house. Because it’s so much easier to control a vacuum than it is my thoughts. So much more rewarding to see a lint-free carpet than a dirty narrative soiled with too many adverbs.

So you see? Procrastination can catch us all, and we can become very adept at justifying, rationalizing, or just making shit up to excuse the fact we’re not working. But you know what, underneath it’s all the same. And it doesn’t smell pretty.

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What’s your go-to procrastination method? Ah, come on. We won’t judge…at least not a lot.

4 thoughts on “Top 5 Ways to Procrastinate–and the danger of doing it

  1. If procrastination helps you to write like this, then there is certainly some good that comes of it. When I procrastinate, I sleep, wake up groggy, and am unable to do what you did here. I very much enjoy your descriptions. I am going to assume all the above five happened quite recently before the post, due to the level of detail involved in the descriptions.

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    • Ha! thank you for the kind comment! It’s true I HAVE used all of those procrastination techniques–though I think only the tea was a vice the day I wrote the post. I must have just been inspired. Writing about procrastination, you see, is nearly as much fun as the act itself. 🙂

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