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March 7, 2018: The Writing Life: Procrastination

I have this theory about procrastination and writers. This is that really bad writers don’t procrastinate while really good writers do procrastinate. You see, really bad writers have no standards and lack high expectations. They believe that every time they write, no matter what, that they are producing something great. And somehow, they get their work published. This is why you see so many dog awful books on thrift store shelves, dog awful books that you would not even read if you were in solitary confinement in prison for the next 100 years.

Now good writers, they do have very high standards and very high expectations. They believe that when they write, they are producing something quite mundane. Many don’t get their work published. This is why you see so few good books on thrift store shelves, books that if you had at them in solitary, you’d read again and again and each time, unearth a new meaning.

Me? Yeah, I’m a procrastinator. I don’t practice long-term procrastination – I’m fairly good at maintaining a regular writing schedule. I practice short-term procrastination. I get my best work done in the mornings, but you won’t find me at the computer at 7:00 a.m. I get there with great consistency at 11:00 a.m. My prime working hours, and I do have them, are between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. I do not know if working these hours has a neurological basis – I imagine that it does. Working in the evenings is absolute torture for me. I tried it this winter and found myself saying (later in the day) I will do what needs to be done tomorrow.

I have no problem writing dispatches in the evening – this is (ahh haa) because they are a form of low stakes writing. I know that I can take risks if I like. Are these dispatches any good? I’d say they are so-so. They’d be better if I revised them. But if I knew that I had to revise them, I would not write them at all.

What got me thinking about all this was the fact that though I finished my morning chores early, today I again got off to my (some would say) enviable 11:00 a.m. start. One could set their watch by observing my writing time.

I interviewed Suzy Crosby yesterday – she owns Cottonwood Creek Farm, the place Stormy came from. And she’s the Local Events Coordinator at the Alaska State Fair. I spent four hours talking with her yesterday. I now have the information for two pieces in Forks – one will be about her job as entertainment director at the Fair, and the other will be about the goat milking competition, which she organizes.

The interview went well – but my expectations are high. I worked on the milking competition story today – the easier of the two pieces. Putting the other off was a form of procrastination. And I spent considerable time on the intro – this was also a form of procrastination because I did not get to the heart of the story. Not yet.

I wish, as do all writers, that the work would do itself. The best that we can hope for is that the process of writing goes well and the ideas fall into place readily. The fear, that they might not, this too leads to procrastination. But I will write about that more difficult subject at another time.

Next: 67. 3/8/18: The Writing Life: Son of Procrastination

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