Procrastination

Know why I’m posting this?

Because it’s easier than writing.

There’s a short story one click away on my screen.  it needs to be finished.  It needed to be finished last month, and I was sure I could do it.  Today, I realized I was saying, ‘well, I’ll have it done by the end of this month.’  And it’s only August 19th!  I should be saying, "I"ll finish this today!"

Instead, I’ve paid my bills, balanced my checkbook, vacuumed the house, taken out the garbage, done some weeding out front and bullied my daughter about cleaning up her room.

I’ve also written two paragraphs.  Two paragraphs is not an ending to the story.  Six to Eight pages would be.  I pretty much know what has to happen. So why don’t I just write it? 

Because it’s easier to sneak online and read Emma’s blog (what, no updates since the beginning of the month?) or Steve’s blog or Lucius’ shared blog.  Much easier than writing the next sentence.

Look at all the sentences I just wrote, right up there.  Not one of them is memorable or advances my story let alone my career. But here I am, typing away, sitting at my desk as if I were a virtuous writer.  But not even the cats are fooled. Both black cats, Pi and my loaner cat Bagheera, have abandoned me.  They know I’m not working. Bagheera is taking a nap on the other side of the office.  Pi is probably outside baking her brains out. 

I have no real reason to be typing this.  I have no real news that is worth sharing, no deep thoughts, not even shallow thoughts.  I’m just typing this because it’s so much easier than finishing my story. And later I can say to myself, ‘Well, at least I updated my livejournal.’  Like that counts for something in some peculiar universe where writers are writers by virtue of how many keystrokes they perform in a day. 

And look at you.  I’ve admitted to you that I’m just blathering on, and yet there you sit, still reading this junk.  Don’t you have something better to do?  A cat box to clean, a story to write, a bathroom window with toothpaste specks that is just awaiting your Windex?  What’s the matter with you?

What’s the matter with us?

This is why the Internet is not good for me as a writer.

Now, please don’t send me emails explaining how writers much have a presence on the Internet, or how so-and-so was discovered as a writer because of her great posts or how Another Famous Writer insists that blogging is the true path to glory.  I’ve got those emails already and I can go back and read them any time I like.  They’re archived.  Somewhere.  Anyway, don’t send those emails to me and please don’t send links to this to people who will certainly disagree with what ever I’ve said.

Because none of that matters.  It doesn’t matter if blogging on the Internet works for someone else, or if someone smarter or richer or more popular than I am thinks the Internet is the Cat’s Pajamas. 

What I’m telling you is that it doesn’t work for me.  It gets in my way.  It gives me a way to pretend I’m being a writer when I’m just being a typist.

And frankly, if you are still here and reading this, it doesn’t work for you, either.  Because there you sit, reading a bunch of blather when you should be having a life.  After all, what will reading all this do for you?  What can you learn from it?  Years from now, will you recall it at all, or will this be just another forgettable 15 minutes of your life.

Hey.  Here’s a real thought for you.  How many more 15 minute bites of life do you have left?  How many do I have left?  Eeeek! And look, we each just wasted one on this crap.  You’ll never get it back, you know.  15 minutes of your life gone. Whoosh.  Flush.  Pop.  All gone, all done.  And what did you get for it?

So.  I should be brave and turn it off. Right?  Delete this journal, delete all the on line stuff I do, put the modem in the recycling bin and just get on with my work the way I used to.  Back before someone installed this magic window on my desk that lets me lean out and shout at the world whenever I feel like it.  Back before the internet got its little suckers hooked onto me.

Okay.  I just went and looked at my story.  I think the next sentence will be ‘she came to the footbridge she had crossed earlier than evening.’ 

Inspired, no?  No. But workmanlike, and that sentence moves the story forward and advances the plot a tiny bit.  So I’m going to go type it, and then I’m going to type another one and one after that.  And maybe Pi will come back into the office and be proud of me.

Or maybe I’ll take that jacket down to the dry cleaners now.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Commenting closes after 14 days

8 Comments »

 
  • germsama says:

    “And look at you. I’ve admitted to you that I’m just blathering on, and yet there you sit, still reading this junk. Don’t you have something better to do? A cat box to clean, a story to write, a bathroom window with toothpaste specks that is just awaiting your Windex? What’s the matter with you?”

    Funny you should mention that! I just finished cleaning the cat box, completed a story this morning, and luckily my bathroom lacks windows to collect toothpaste! This left me with plenty of time to get a good laugh and a sentimental nod reading your LJ post. πŸ˜‰

  • Thanks for reminding me to clean the cat box. I enjoyed reading your post as it distracts me from all the tornado warnings on the TV right now.

  • habiliments says:

    I never get so much done as when I’m putting off doing something else. And I shed 15-minute chunks like the cat sheds thick wads of white hair. But I think that most people, especially people working on creative things, need mental breaks. I cannot, just cannot, work on stories for work all day, solid, just one into another. I don’t smoke, and I can only drink so many cups of coffee in the day. So I read shit online. And half the time, I get addicted. I want to know something else and I want to know it RIGHT NOW. And I need to stop writing, even if all I’m writing is a crappy 400-word review of a movie no one I know has even heard of.

    Anyway. I don’t mean to come off as defensive. I just … I used to wish I was a smoker, ’cause smokers had the social, get-stuff-off-your-chest breaks with each other. But then I found blogs, and yapping into the void, and while I don’t post as often as I like β€” I seem to have misplaced my knack for being a chronic chronicler β€” I still like this world as a strange sort of social smokebreak. I don’t think, though, that posting to it makes me a “real writer,” but hell, I waste my 15 minutes on worse things all the time. Including things that are part of work. It’s funny how that happens.

  • nerwende says:

    I have those moments too when I want to delete all evidence of myself ever having been online.

    But to answer your question (why did I waste 15 minutes reading this) it’s simply because I haven’t yet come across any text by you (whether it’s a huge book, or a short story, or a tiny remark in the newsgroup) that wasn’t insightful or funny or touching or otherwise enjoyable. I’m sorry if you meant to write a good example of a boring and irrelevant livejournal entry – you have to try a bit harder. πŸ˜‰

  • erikh says:

    Ah, I used to wish I knew how to drink, as it seemed so much cooler than saying, “I need a break from writing. Think I’ll have myself a, uh, load of laundry in the washer.”

    Yes, we need the breaks, but I still get so mad at myself when I not only take one, but turn it into The Break That Lasted All Afternoon.

    Today, also, I did not finish the story. I worked on it in my mind while I helped my #1 son move furniture and reassemble it in his new home. Then I played with his cat. And did . . . whatever else it was I did, which I can’t even remember, but it was emphatically not ‘finishing that story.’

    So, that is a live and accurate demonstration that even without the Internet, I excel at avoiding doing my work!

    And as a result, I’m mad at myself. Which should, of course, prompt me to go finish the story.

    But what am I doing . . .. ?

  • erikh says:

    ah, yes.

    Many’s the time I’ve thought to myself, “Well, I’ve decided that I don’t like the Internet. I think I’ll hit the edit button and erase it all.

    Maybe I’ll get rid of Freeways at the same time. I don’t like driving on freeways. Nothing to look at but concrete walls for the most part.”

    So, if you wake up one morning and discover that both the Internet and the US freeway system has been edited out of existence, you’ll know who to blame.

    πŸ™‚

    Megan

  • erikh says:

    P.S.

    Finished the story yesterday.
    Finished it again last night.
    Then emailed it off.

    I’m sure I’ll see it again, for final edits. But that is done!

    And on to the next writing project.

    Megan

  • danniebrown says:

    learned something today

    It hasn’t taken me 15 minutes of my life, or of my time to read this update of yours. And it wasn’t ‘lost time’ at all. In fact I think it was helpful and that it taught me a lesson. So, it must be useful right? It taught me that even great virtuose writers have their moments of ‘down and low’ and that you’re human after all.
    Believe me, it’s good to know. Really good to know. Please don’t break the line, that tiny little thread that makes us look into your soul and know you as a person. πŸ˜‰
    *hugs*
    And in case Pi wasn’t proud of you, I am. *winks*