Mandy wonders – Procrastination…why do we love it so much?

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(Pro)crastination sounds like something in favour of crastination. I looked it up and couldn’t find such a word, I found lots of other interesting words however and clicked on other sites and…anyway, I’d better get on with the blog. (see what I did there?)

Just in case you are wondering about the word here is a definition:

Procrastination = the action of delaying or postponing something.  And apparently, there is an old proverb which I think sums it up perfectly – Procrastination is the thief of time Edward Young – English Poet (1683-1765)

So many writers I know struggle with procrastination and spend their time on Twitter and/or Facebook. I have fallen victim to both these temptations and as I’m looking to move to Cornwall next year (hopefully), I add to these already addictive attractions, the property website – Rightmove.

What I would love to know is WHY???

Why do I and countless other writers waste precious time pootling about online, procrastinating for England, (or indeed any country in the world) instead of cracking on with the novel? I left teaching in May to live the dream of writing full-time and though poor as a church mouse, (why these rodents are singled out above sewer rats etc as a metaphor of poverty, I have no idea) I feel unbelievably lucky to be able to devote a huge chunk of my time to it.

I absolutely LOVE writing! It is not a chore, boring, doesn’t answer back, (well, not often), doesn’t send Ofsted Inspectors round to glare at me from a corner while rubbing it’s skeletal hands and sharpening a scythe, so WHY do I neglect it for at least two hours a day?(OK, three.)

When I say two or three hours, that’s not all at once…but in small chunks of frittered time. And when I say frittered, that implies trivial…it’s not ALL trivial. I have met some lovely people on Twitter and Facebook , and enjoy sharing writing tips and so forth,  but I often tend to click here and there and end up thinking things like… ‘Hm, perhaps we should get that invaluable automatic cat cleaner.” Or, ‘Wow, my life would be complete if I had a purple loo brush with the sparkly stars on the handle.’

So… is procrastination part of the human psyche, some primeval instinct that makes us want to avoid the very thing we are supposed to be doing, pleasurable or not? Is it something restricted to writers? Have we all been brainwashed by some alien force to procrastinate so they can steal the creative time we’ve wasted and knit lovely twin-sets with it? (Yes…I know…that is how my mind works, sad really and I probably need help.) Or is it something else? What do you think?

24 thoughts on “Mandy wonders – Procrastination…why do we love it so much?

  1. You know what they say:

    “If a job is worth doing……

    …..it’ll still be worth doing tomorrow.”

  2. That’s right, John! And Carol, I think your world is getting very crowded! 🙂

  3. Procrastination has a guilty pleasure feel about it sometimes. I hate it …yet also find ways to condone it. then later on I think ‘How could I have wasted so much of my day?’ Another phrase for it might be ‘I’m just checking up on my email/facebook etc’ 🙂 BTW, I have a similar work situation since I recently left teaching, too.

  4. Wonderful, Mandy! From now on “procrastination” for me will always be synonymous with ET knitting a twin-set 😀 That reminds me, I fancy doing some knitting – writing, translation, promo, housework will just have to wait….

  5. Thanks, Henri! There could be a book in there somewhere – ET and The Knitting Pattern of Procrastination. Happy knitting! x

  6. Mandy, you have painted the picture of my life! To put off doing something (and I should be writing now) I have ended up here (though I hope you won’t be offended) on the grounds that I am always encouraged and amused by what I find. I’ve also taken a step back from procrastinating (which sounds horribly medical) and re-christened the process pfaffing – thereby starting a debate on another website (more writing time successfully abandoned) as to whether pfaffing should be spelled (or spelt?) with or without a ‘p.’ What do you think? We could keep this going all day, maybe?

  7. Oh joy to procrastination. I read a blog on said subject (when I should be getting on with ‘im’n’er – working title). Mention of poor as a church mouse and ruminations on why this particular rodent got me getting down and personal with that G-search engine. So what did I find, aparently it is an old saying alluding to the fact that church kitchens were never as full as those of richer houses. It was first written in James Howell’s 1659 proverb collection where he said the proverb was ‘hungry as a church mouse’.

    Procrastination sometime leads to nuggets and maybe I’ll use this somewhere in my novel…but then again.

  8. If I said I didn’t procrastinate, I’d be lying. In fact, it’s a word I’ve known since a very early age, as it’s one my mum introduced me to (in an accusatory manner)as far back as I can remember. I’ll probably have “I’ll do it later” on my gravestone.

  9. I once wrote an essay on procrastination (probably to put off doing something else) in which I made the case for procrastination being a symptom of ‘fear of failure’. We put off doing important things because we are scared of not doing them well enough to live up to our own expectations of ourselves. By never finishing, we never have to face the imperfect completed article.

    Sorry. Well, you did ask…

    Right, now back to the WIP…or maybe I should just go and find that essay…I’m sure it’s in *one* of my files…

  10. Having returned home yesterday evening, slept from 11pm to 10.15am, what should I be doing now that I’m finally awake? Yes, unpacking, and not looking at emails, blogs and twitter!!

    Liz x

  11. But it’s so much fun reorganising the airing cupboard and washing the kitchen floor and tidying the living room – isn’t it?

  12. I didn’t know you used to teach too, Nancy, will be great not going back in September won’t it? 🙂

    Thanks Jane for that…I now am looking at my WiP with a growing fear of failure. Perhaps I should see if there’s anything on telly!

    Fennie, I think it should be spelt phaffing! Just another on to throw into the pot, do you like it? 🙂

    Thanks re-the church mouse explanation, Michelle, very interesting and its put my mind at rest!

    And mine, Liv, and mine.

    Nice to have you back, Liz. I’m sure you will tell me all about it soon – can’t wait!

    Oh yes, Margaret, I have reorganising my airing cupboard on my to-do list for later 🙂

  13. I haven’t been putting off replying, I’ve been to Swansea! (This is what’s known as a Big Day Out here… wait until you move to Cornwall and you’ll understand!). I’m so with Jane on this one – the fear of failure. When the idea’s in my head it’s terrific – the fun begins when I try to capture it on the page). As for the Rightmove site – you are doomed, my friend; it devours entire days!

  14. I call it research Mandy – or reflection. I tend to take my pick 🙂 Rightmove of course is the ultimate research tool for location and setting. You just don’t know you are doing it :)Sxx

  15. I was going to comment on this earlier, only I thought I’d better get on with something I should have done yesterday, which put me in mind of something I put on the backburner last week…..oh dear. But I’m here now and obviously in good company…great post.

  16. I’m with Sarah on this – you can always put a positive spin on procrastination! We could develop a whole Theory of Procrastination here. For example, is the thing you’re procrastinating about more or less important/enjoyable than the displacement activity? I’ve now confused myself, so will go away and procrastinate somewhere else …

  17. Read this post yesterday and was going to comment, then realised I was procrastinating and went and did some work instead 😀
    (Just thought I’d tell you!) Thanks, Mandy, great post!

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