personal, ruminations

On Writer’s Block, Procrastination, and a Solution

Writer’s block is a funny thing. When you don’t have it, you tend to wonder what everyone is so upset about. When you do have it you wonder how you ever managed to write anything.

There are certainly a number of possible causes for the disease. The most likely, if you want my opinion, is that it is caused by lack of confidence. Doubt about the quality of the writing you will manage to tap out, doubt about the quality of the writing you have managed to tap out, and doubt that you will ever manage to tap anything out again.

For me, this seems to be the cause. When I know I have a strong topic to write about, I’m often eager to do the work to put out a solid piece of writing. The issue comes with the fact that this is not so easy as I might like it to be.

Sometimes I’ll worry that what I thought was a great idea yesterday really isn’t so today. Sometimes I’ll worry that I won’t be able to do justice to this great idea. Sometimes I just can’t seem to make a single sentence that seems coherent when read.

I can’t escape the feeling that writer’s block is a natural part of the process. I doubt that you could find a person in the world who hasn’t at one time or another suffered from writer’s block, or it’s good friend procrastination.

For me, and many others as well, procrastination is engendered by fear that what will actually be produced won’t be worth the time that has been spent on it. For that reason, I tend to hold off as long as possible–that way any perceived lack of quality can be justified by an artificial lack of time.

Few things cure either writer’s block or procrastination better than deadlines. The trouble is, they have to be substantial and useful deadline. They have to be deadlines that you as the procrastinator actually are concerned by. An artificial deadline that you create, one that you know to be artificial will never work.

What’s needed is a deadline enforcement system. A service that will hold you to your deadlines. When you fail them you will begin losing things that are valuable to you. Maybe they could begin to drain your savings account. Maybe that could rough you up. Maybe they could just be really disappointed in you.

I don’t know why such a service doesn’t exist. Perhaps I’ll make it.The trouble is I have to create it. Creating an anti-procrastination service without an anti-procrastination service? This may be the most difficult test a procrastinator could ever undertake.

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3 thoughts on “On Writer’s Block, Procrastination, and a Solution

  1. At your SERVICE! Just send me your bank account number, and I will begin to deduct small amounts for every moment you spend not writing.
    Your writing is fantastic. Your seriousness of thinking shows through. I, for one, appreciate what you are doing. I am impressed by how thoughtful your posts are on timely topics. I am just listening to them on the radio, and you already have your post finished!
    When friends of mine call me and are needing to ‘tell their story’, and they don’t know where to begin, I always tell them to “start in the middle”. There is always some important point in the middle.
    I posted about procrastination, and the Ice Cream Method, on my blog a while back.
    Thanks for the link. I really like your blogroll.

  2. “What’s needed is a deadline enforcement system. A service that will hold you to your deadlines. When you fail them you will begin losing things that are valuable to you. Maybe they could begin to drain your savings account. Maybe that could rough you up. Maybe they could just be really disappointed in you.”

    If you make any headway with this idea I must be informed. It’s genius.

    Also, thanks for taking the time to comment. I totally dig what I’ve read so far here. You have been officially added to my blog list.

    Also, I wanted to say that I agree with you on the whole “Scooter” Libby thing. Way too much has been made out of this specific event. Especially when so many worse things have happened via the hand of Dubya. However it is refreshing to hear someone in the “mainstream” media say what he really thinks about something.

    Peace and good luck!

  3. Pingback: Link Banana » Making Procrastination Cost Something

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