By Katheryn Rivas
OK, so, like most of you who read this blog, I, too, am a procrastinator. And I am also a writer. The more I’ve ventured into the world of writing, the more I think that the two categories are one.
The division between the writer and the procrastinator is fictitious. It almost has to be the case, considering the number of writers I know who have the chronic it-can-wait-till-tomorrow syndrome.
Since my procrastination more or less cripples me (or at least when I allow it to, which is often) I can offer no solid “tips and tricks” for anyone that would be even remotely helpful. All the good, concrete tips have been written about before, and they no longer interest me as much as they used to.
Instead, I can only offer my personal reflections on procrastination and how I wrestle with these time-frittering demons.
Perhaps at the beginning. Beginnings are always the toughest part of anything, and writing is the one activity that lends itself most to the false-start blues.
Here’s a gem from the noted German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke: “It is a tremendous act of violence to begin anything. I am not able to begin. I simply skip what should be the beginning.”
OK, then, so let’s skip it.
There will be times when you can’t write. You simply can’t. And I don’t think it is fair or right or in any way reasonable to assume that a blank Word doc page with its blinking cursor screaming at us to just write is a bad thing.
The physical act of writing—although sure, it is an integral piece of the puzzle, since you can’t really call yourself a writer if you haven’t written anything—is far from being the only step in the whole process.
There is a lot of thinking involved, a lot of drafting (even if you aren’t putting it all down on paper), and there’s also, most importantly, the step in the writing process that soars above all others—reading. Serious reading.
So for those of you who struggle with procrastination, learn to embrace it. Learn to understand that procrastination can sometimes be your friend (even though it can quickly turn completely unproductive and ugly).
Procrastination only works when you are doing fruitful things procrastinating, like some of the other things I mentioned—reading, thinking, and perhaps even exploring other art forms, like music, from which to draw inspiration.
Only a couple of days ago, I learned so much about the creative process from an unlikely source: Boris Berezovsky, a Russian piano virtuoso. The documentary I watched on YouTube about Berezovsky can certainly be labeled “procrastination.”
But one thing I learned, I simply can’t get over.
Berezovsky said, “Before one can play like a virtuoso, one must listen like a virtuoso.”
This one sentence underscored for me the importance of two things for the proper development of my craft: reading and observing the outside world.
You can call that procrastination. I call that listening. And that’s what every writer needs to learn, before “beginning” anything.