Procrastination is the thief of time – Edward Young

Procrastination the bug bear of creative life

Last year my writers’ group had a theme of Procrastination. The night before the meeting crisis management hit me full force. I’d had two weeks between meetings and the list was months old.

Of course I was I was going to write it the week before, after the washing, the ironing and tidying. I’d do it after hoovering the lounge of the biscuit crumbs the cat rejects, unlike my previous canines who ensured my carpet was always clean of tasty droppings. I would write it, I promised, after the early night, the late night watching Question Time, the reading in bed night and the hour spent reading on the sofa.  I’d do it after writing another blog post.

The trouble with procrastination is it clogs up your memory. There are so many things to do and written masterpieces to finish off … some time … later .. tomorrow … next week … this evening, etc, etc.  The thought ‘I will put that in my diary’ leads me to open it and see that I have forgotten something else – ah well, I will email an apology later … or this evening … whenever – and I find a hair appointment clash. My diary is the victim of my procrastination. When I agree to something I  will put it in the diary later …  when I get home … tonight … or more likely, when I find it. Every job put off is another one to clog the brain.

As a teacher I worked from my ‘to-do list’ every day. It is difficult to procrastinate in teaching as there are syllabus and exam requirements knocking at the door and lessons cannot start ‘whenever’ but on the dot. Perhaps that is why, now, as a retired teacher and a writer, I procrastinate so much. It is because I CAN.

Years ago Staff Development included a Time Management Course. We were told only to touch a piece of paper once. Then read it, file it or bin it. Never put it to one side and pick it up again. Of course, that doesn’t work for a writer.  Imagine reading your first chapter through and filing it or deciding it is no good and binning it.  A constant writing mantra is nothing is wasted and a writer should never discard what might be useful later. So I CAN procrastinate. I may even improve the piece if I wait and think it over.

According to TM theory if you leave your intray long enough, the chances are many things will have answered themselves or not need answering. Everything will have moved on. Most papers will be out of date. It does work. Remember if you really wanted to reply you would have done so. It works with special offers as well, I can vouch for that. I am always coming across out of date vouchers.

Julia Cameron writes of procrastination in The Artists’ Way. We tend to look to the big picture such as ‘I want to write a book’ without making many small creative changes to keep working in the moment. Much better than seeing the WHOLE book as something unachievable. Rather than take scary baby steps, we rush to the cliff and stand there quaking.  For example, we waste thinking time such as ‘If I finish the book, how will I market it?’

In today’s media frenzied world and the vast possibilities in life we have so many choices. There are numerous groups, endless fitness classes and as well as the corner shop there are several supermarkets enticing us with special offers and, failing that, we can motor further afield and join the Aldi or Lidl crowds.  At home, we can watch hundreds of television channels, record two programmes while watching a third, we have radio, overflowing libraries and e readers.  Now, don’t start me on that one as I just can’t get on with screen reading. Even the Help menu doesn’t understand so I need to ask someone … tomorrow … next week?  Give me a book please!

Procrastination does have advantages as, like Time Management theory it allows you to leave some tasks which may, in fact, be unnecessary. For example, writers have at their fingertips an endless supply of websites and social media to promote themselves. If we pursued them all we would never get any writing done. So to stay sane, procrastinate and allow a limited time for each one. Twenty minutes on Twitter and put off those other tweets til tomorrow, otherwise the whole evening will have disappeared. Or sign up for Tweetdeck. It saved my sanity.

As for followers on our blogs, learning to filter out the really useful is an art in itself. The art of scanning a post is essential. If the article is by one of your followers or those you follow, then you need to comment.

Oh dear when will I ever have time for dinner? Well …… I could have it later I suppose.

My debut, Grandma’s  Poetry Book, is available by post via or on my website .

This poetry collection spans sixteen years capturing the experience of a first-time grandmother on her sometimes wobbly journey in her new role. It includes many facets of unmissable moments and childhood milestones, some humorous and others more poignant, even sad.  Such treasured times can easily be forgotten so the book acts as a nostalgic memoir. Touching and funny in turn, readers will be reminded of the joys of witnessing childhood development and the effect o n their own lives. Even those yet to reach grandparenthood including fathers, aunties and primary school children have already enjoyed reading this book. Grandma’s Poetry Book makes an ideal gift for new grandparents, birthdays, Christmas and Mothers’ Day and many readers have returned to buy more copies for friends and relations. Each poem has its own laugh-out-loud illustration by an artist who has been likened to E H Sheppard.

Some comments have included ‘Pam Ayres meets Winnie the Pooh’, ‘made me laugh, made me cry’, ‘charming book’ and ‘every grandparent should have one’.

OUT SOON  SHOULD I WEAR FLORAL and other poems on Life, Love and Leaving, By Di Castle and illustrated by Denise Horn.

You can follow me on twitter @dinahcas and on Facebook






One thought on “Procrastination

  1. I have raised two sons who are masters in the art of creative procrastination. It drives me mad. They don’t get it from me!

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