Pssst…. you… yeah you! Come closer. I have a super-secret secret to tell you about writers. Not only are we really good at taking a tiny idea like a time-traveling barista or a dog who can solve murders into a novel or a screenplay, we’re even better at taking a very long time getting those precious ideas onto paper.
One of the things we hate to do most is sit in front of a computer as it mocks us with a blinking cursor on a blank screen. Long before social media came to our rescue by distracting us from deadlines for hours, we would sit and have a staring fight with our screen saver. I’ve aced every game that came with my computer. You’re looking at the Queen of Solitaire.
Procrastination is the worst kind of frenemy. It makes you believe that you’re a super writer with mutant typing abilities. You can binge watch all of “The Walking Dead” and “Murder She Wrote” and still make your deadline. Sure, ya can.
That’s the problem. You want to believe that you’re are the master of your own destiny as the next Dorothy Parker or F. Scott Fitzgerald. But what you really are is an expert in zombie combat and ‘80s murder mystery TV shows.
But why do we give into the sweet seduction of doing anything but writing? Could it be our constant fears that the Fraud Police will show up at our front doors demanding that we finally admit we’re hacks and turn over our laptops?
Is the risk of failing worse than not trying at all? I know that it can be easier to believe you don’t suck as a writer, if you don’t write. But that’s not an option for me. If I don’t write regularly I get antsy. I start talking to myself in the grocery store. I begin to think I can telepathically communicate with my dog. So for all our sakes, I write.
Maybe we’re just worried about non-stop rejection from editors, publishers, producers and other writers. Or perhaps we’re still traumatized by those YouTube comments (the ones you’re never suppose to read) left on our last video post. Personally, it’s all the above.
I’ve published books and comics. I’ve written endless articles and columns. But when a deadline looms instead of tackling the project head-on, I often wait until the last possible moment — usually 3am — to write that commentary about sex robots or to finish up that half-written novel about a ghost who only haunts donut shops.
Eventually, I sit down, write my tome and then go to bed angry that I didn’t spend endless hours writing draft after draft, honing my skills like a real artist. But here’s the big secret. ALL writers procrastinate. It’s what we do; it’s part of the process. And even super-successful novelists can’t keep up with their own deadlines.
Just look at George R.R. Martin who just missed a deadline for his latest book. Sure that comedy skit on “Conan” last week wasn’t actually Martin himself shopping for a new bed or robbing banks instead of writing but honestly, I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. It’s one thing to take forever to write another installment to a beloved book series, but it’s quite another when your fans never let you forget that your next book better kick ass.
In fact, I bet some of you are reading this guest blog instead of getting stuff done. So instead of feeling guilty for googling exes, reading obscure Wikipedia entries or checking your Twitter every 5 minutes, cut yourself some slack. Us writers find ideas from the weirdest places and sometimes from procrastination itself.
Knowing every single episode of “Magnum P.I.” by heart will really pay off for me when I finally write Tom Selleck’s unauthorized biography. Maybe giggling at all those Tumblr cat memes will motivate me to write the next cat comic to rival Garfield and Bill the Cat.
So procrastinate with pride. Just remember to eventually write about it.