Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Book Reviews: From political histories to bad comics, to bad comics of political histories. And the occasional rant about fiction and writing.

Procrastination is good for writers

Jerry Stratton, December 26, 2005

In Good and Bad Procrastination, Paul Graham writes that some forms of procrastination are good for you. If you procrastinate the small stuff, you have more time for the big stuff.

Errands are so effective at killing great projects that a lot of people use them for that purpose. Someone who has decided to write a novel, for example, will suddenly find that the house needs cleaning. People who fail to write novels don't do it by sitting in front of a blank page for days without writing anything. They do it by feeding the cat, going out to buy something they need for their apartment, meeting a friend for coffee, checking email. "I don't have time to work," they say. And they don't; they've made sure of that.

The worst forms of procrastination are when you do those “errands” rather than your real work: it feels like you’re getting stuff done, but you aren’t.

Any advice about procrastination that concentrates on crossing things off your to-do list is not only incomplete, but positively misleading, if it doesn't consider the possibility that the to-do list is itself a form of type-B procrastination.

Read the rest of the article.

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