How to Procrastinate Like a Pro Writer

!$#@ Mark Miller is funny – and always right too. (Damn it, we’re so…envious of this guy!)


by Mark Miller

It’s no secret that when it comes to sitting down to actually doing the writing, we writers excel at procrastination. If, anywhere within a five mile radius of the computer, we happen to notice an unsharpened pencil, a window, a refrigerator, a phone, unopened mail, a magazine, something needing dusting, the TV remote, a ladybug making its way up the wall, a freckle, a birthmark, a pimple, a scab, or even a stray thought — that’s more than enough reason to stop writing (assuming we’ve even started yet) and focus on that distracting alternative, at least until it suddenly occurs to us why we happen to have been sitting in front of that blank computer screen for the past forty-five minutes.

Sometimes, we take advantage of even longer periods of procrastination — and for each of these, in order to deal with the guilt, we have invented a specific rationalization.  It’s not “meeting a friend for lunch” — it’s Networking.  It’s not “vacationing in Hawaii” — it’s Gathering Important Life Experience.  It’s not “having sex all afternoon with your lover” — it’s Getting In Touch With Your Emotions and Learning About the Opposite Sex.  It’s not “going to see a movie” — it’s “Research — Hey, Come On, If I’m Going To Be Writing Them, I Have To Know What’s Out There.”  My mother used to tell me, “You have an answer for everything, a solution for nothing,” and I’m starting to appreciate her wisdom.

Lately, however, I’ve become aware of yet another form of procrastination to which we writers fall victim.  Okay, to which I fall victim; I won’t drag the rest of you down with me.  Because if you identify with me, you’re doing a good enough job dragging yourself down.  For this form of procrastination is perhaps the most disturbing and insidious of them all.  It speaks to the very heart of who we are, what we do, what we want.  And I’m really not sure I’ll ever be able to overcome it.  Ladies and gentlemen, fellow writers, I hope you appreciate the amount of courage it’s taking me to come clean about this, but here goes:  I have become addicted to the trappings of being a writer.

Yes, sadly, it’s true — I am passionately interested in and devoted to every possible aspect of being a writer, with just one exception — doing the actual writing.  Ironic, isn’t it?  Or better yet, crazy, irrational, tragic.  How dare I presume to even call myself a writer?  Would someone who watched the Food Channel all day refer to himself as a chef?  Would someone who collected band-aids call himself a doctor?  Would a woman who read all day long about famous architects call herself an architect?  And yet, is what I am doing so very different from these professional wanna-bees?  And I call myself a writer.  Hah!  I disgust myself.

Think I’m exaggerating?  Check out all the writing-related activities with which I fill my time–time that could be spent actually writing:

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