If I can put it off, I will put it off.
Many, many years ago, when I was still at Primary school, we performed a school play based on the Washington Irvine character Rip Van Winkle. I don't suppose it was a very good play, and since every performer was under 9 years old, I feel certain that even if it had been a masterpiece we would still have reduced it to an hour's worth of drivel. However, one of the songs was particularly catchy, and stuck in my mind to the point that, even thirty years later, I can still remember it:
"Now people say procrastination is a waste of time,
But I really think procrastination is a fault of mine.
I just can't seem to get things done, and here's the reason why,
I say "Oh yes, I'll see to that, I'll do it by and by."
The reason I'm wittering on in this manner is because I recently read an article about procrastination, and how it afflicts writers in particular. Now, I know that there are some writers out there who rise at 5 am every morning to crack on with their daily 1000 words. They write in the evening after a hard day in the office. They fit a few paragraphs in between school runs, or while they are waiting for the washing machine to finish its spin cycle. Well done, I say. That is the sort of industrious attitude that gets books published and wins prizes.
But there are others of us who, when faced with the yawning chasm of the blank screen, will go out of their way to find something else to do. Anything to put off the moment when we must put pen to paper (or finger to key, I suppose, now that we are in the digital age). I am one such writer. I would go as far as to say that I am one of the most creative people I know when I am stuck at work with no opportunity to write, or when I'm driving, or shopping. But when I sit down in front of my computer, with nothing but time and opportunity ahead of me, this is when I dry up. Inspiration leaves me, and I find myself succumbing to the overwhelming urge to clean the toilet. I've read no end of well-meaning articles which promise to transform me into an industrious writer whose output could match Shakespeare's. To no avail. I finished my first novel several months ago now, and have struggled in the meantime to begin the second one. There is an element of writer's block involved, but mostly it is procrastination, pure and simple. I'll start it tomorrow, I tell myself, or perhaps at the weekend. I have some holiday time coming up, that would be the perfect time to start. Let's face it, I could have been starting it now, instead of writing this blog.
I will start it, eventually, of course. There are only so many toilets to clean, lightbulbs to change, and essential trips to the corner shop to make. At some point I will run out of excuses, and then I shall set the literary world on fire! But for now, there is a documentary on psychopaths that I want to catch up with on IPlayer, and then I shall have to cook dinner and finish the ironing.
I will definitely start it tomorrow. In the meantime, I can at least console myself that I have the cleanest toilet in the South West.
PS, if any further proof were needed, I read the article about procrastination a week and a half ago, and it's taken me this long to get around to writing about it.