Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Everybody does it. Writers, however, are champions at it. If it were an Olympic event we would win gold every time. It is procrastination, the thief of time.
Painting: Moody Blues

We put off what we know we should be doing, what we want to be doing – writing.  Sometimes we put it off  until the next day, or the next. It might be our livelihood, or a hobby, or still just a dream, but for some reason writers are so reluctant to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair that there have been volumes written about the problem. It's called writer's block but that, I'm afraid, is a cop-out. It's putting a name to the condition, thereby giving it credibility. It's like having the doctor diagnosing 'flu, which makes it OK to stay in bed and suffer nobly.  We say "I can't write, I have writer's block".

For writers, not-writing isn't laziness. If it were laziness we would just sit about reading or contemplating, blobbing out, but we don't. We spend time looking urgently for something else do, like mowing the lawn, hacking at the shrubbery, cleaning the car. If we can justify the non-writing, all the better – if there are more important things to do, it's OK.  This is a little how it goes:

Get up in morning. Shower. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Make bed. Make coffee. Eat banana. Feed cats. Sip coffee while staring out of window. Turn on computer. Check emails. Check favourite websites. Sneak into Facebook – why oh why? feel guilty. Play Spider Solitaire – twice. Feel ashamed and guilty. Um, let's see, what next. Um, need groceries, make list. Not much on list, leave till another day. Um, carpet needs vacuuming, dead flies on windowsills – flick round with duster. Laundry! Yes, good day for drying, find stuff to launder. Hang out wet clothes, see weeds, yank out handfuls, hands now filthy, can't type like that, might as well wash windows, wash hands at same time ...

The late Michael King was being interviewed on radio a few years ago and a man rang for his advice on how to overcome the difficulties of getting started. It was so hard, he said. How do you get motivated, he asked. King had little patience with this wimpish attitude. He said bluntly, if you don't want to write, do something else.

No use kidding ourselves – writing can only be done by doing it. We just have to get on with it.  


  1. How familiar this sounds. Here is a little of how my day went yesterday.. (should be studying for exams): wake up. go back to sleep. wake up again. get up. make poached eggs and avocado. sit on balcony in sun. make smoothie. sit on balcony again. shower. check facebook. tidy room. tidy desk. tidy kitchen - tidy room = productivity. put makeup on. walk to uni. check facebook. rearrange desktop. get books out. check facebook. start typing notes. spend 15 minutes looking for appropriate picture to put in notes. fill drink bottle. check facebook. check email. write a few more notes. play frisbee - exercise is good for studying. go and get food. sit OUTSIDE med school eating food. check facebook. online shopping. a few more notes. send txts to the last 10 people ive messaged. walk home. bed.
    Ahhh, procrastination

  2. Now that you've got through the barricades, Gem, keep the comments coming! I so get what you've written - med school students and writers are the same under the skin.