If you’re anything like me, you understand that there is value in what others would deem “procrastinating”. I become a domestic goddess when it comes time for me to write. My husband is thrilled! The laundry, dishes, hoovering and dusting is done before he gets home and all he has to do is put his feet up and relax! Unfortunately for me, my husband also knows to ask me about my word count for that day… darn!
The problem with being a writer is that in order to justify the profession, you actually have to write. Who would’ve thought! So after some procrastination and a lot of reading into ways that other writers procrastinate. I decided to turn my procrastination into productivity and relabel it as research for this article.
“I love deadlines, I like the whooshing sound they make when they go by.”
— Douglas Adams
When I first started researching this topic I was, of course, hoping that a golden ray of enlightenment would rest upon my shoulders and share with me the secret of productivity… that didn’t happen. I did, however, find some rather amusing ways in which writers procrastinate!
Margaret Atwood was a surprising result, with all of her poetry, books, novels, t.v shows and whatnot I was surprised that a woman with such an impressive resume would be a serial procrastinator. This is the one that makes me feel much much better about my inability to start real work. She says she spends “the morning procrastinating and worrying, and then plunges into the manuscript in a frenzy of anxiety around 3:00 p.m” This sounds similar to my routine, which is unfortunately for me the 9–5 slog. It just works best for my writing schedule! This means I would only get two hours of writing done every day. Not super productive!
Gene Fowler suggests that “Writing is easy, all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead.” I’m glad to say that drops of blood have never physically came out of my forehead but I can relate to the stress behind what causes this medical marvel! Fear of writing is a very common issue within the writing community. Fear of being judged or just not being good enough can overwhelm and terrify an individual.
I like to remind myself that no one has to see my work if I’m not happy with the outcome. There is no pressure to submit a piece of work that I am not content with. This takes away a huge amount of power from my fear of a blank page.
Douglas Adams has a remarkable sense of humour about his famous procrastination methods. “I love deadlines, I like the whooshing sound they make when they go by.” Adams spent his day drinking cups of tea, taking baths, and spending his days in bed. Basically he lived the life that most writer’s dream of!
The more money he made from his books, the more he procrastinated, he is perhaps the only author I know of to dread writing this much. Meretzky says it best, “Douglas has raised procrastination to an art form. Hitchhikers Guide would never have gotten done if I hadn’t gone over to England and virtually camped out on his doorstep.”
While I am very good at procrastinating nothing I could do would ever hold a candle to Adams’ ability to put off writing! I, unfortunately, like most other writers cannot afford the luxury of putting off my work. Even with that, I think I enjoy the process of writing much more than Adams ever did.
Victor Hugo, I saved the best for last here fellas, to contrast all the ways in which a writer procrastinates I would love to present a way to stop yourself from ever leaving your study!
Hugo would get his servant to take off all of his (Hugos) clothes in the study and only come back with them at a specific time! This would be a foolproof plan, but unfortunately for me, I live in a studio apartment where my study and wardrobe are one and the same. I also don’t have a servant willing to hide my clothes from me. Plus I have a dog that needs to go outside to pee every now and again. So while I can’t say that I’ve personally tried this method, I would recommend it to anyone who’s circumstances match Hugos. I really hope someone does an “I write like Victor Hugo for two days video”… I’m looking at you, Kate Cavanaugh!
In all seriousness, if you’re going to write like Hugo please make sure you’re in a warm place, as always I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!
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