Monday, January 12, 2009

Why did the writer miss her deadline? It was an icestorm. No, a sandstorm!



This morning I pressed SEND on my first draft for MAKEOVERS CAN BE MURDER. The manuscript should now be safely in the hands of my editor in NY. Ahh...sweet sigh of relief.

I was especially relieved to send this draft off. Because let's just say that it was a bit...overdue.

Which brings me to today's blog topic: the many rich, varied, and creative
procrastination rituals that are employed by writers.

Yes, we writers have some amazing ways to delay the inevitable pasting of butt-on-chair-and-typing that is required to complete an actual finished work.

For example: I have a sitcom-writer friend who cleans every drawer, organizes every closet, and sharpens every pencil in her house before she starts working on her scripts for the Zack and Cody Show. And she doesn’t even use pencils.


Internet surfing has become a big-time Writer's Time Sink. In fact the Internet is learning how to surf us. For example, even if you try to ignore those omnipresent pop-up ads, they know how to leap off their launchpads and grab hold of your cursor. It always takes me a half minute of muttering and banging around with the mouse to drive those damned Wells Fargo horses back to their window. I wonder if there's some way I could customize my cursor into a whip?

Excessive procrastination sometimes causes writers to fall seriously behind on our overall writing output. We have even...gasp! been known to miss our deadlines.

When that happens, there's a temptation to come up with complex and creative excuses for why one’s manuscript isn’t being turned in to the editor on time. But fair warning: Editors, or at least the editors in New York, have heard every excuse known to creative mankind for not meeting a deadline. These include:


* I was on the wrong side of the International Dateline (thank you Gary Busey)

* The lack of reliable mail distribution in your neck of the woods (not a workable excuse in a major metropolitan area)

* The impending demise of a close relative (but don't make it too close lest it prompt the sending of an embarrassing bouquet of sympathy flowers)

* The onset of a persistent-but-vague immune-deficiency ailment that saps the energy required for sustained bouts of writing (but not for attending conferences where one is observed singing and pounding the bar with fists at wee hours of the morning).

So do you have any excuses you can add to the list? Any good procrastination stories you've heard?

Click here if you feel like procrastinating some more with the Marx Brothers.




13 comments:

  1. I only have self-imposed deadlines at this point, but I'm an expert at procrastination. My house is so clean right now, you could eat off the floor.

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  2. Joyce, can I come visit your house? I procrastinate AND my closets sent me a note asking me to enroll in Clutterer's Anonymous.

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  3. How about: I had to update my FaceBook, Twitter, MWA, ITW, GoodReads, RedRoom, BackSpace, LinkedIn, FWA, NINC, MySpace, AuthorRoom, BookPlace status. :-)

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  4. Oh Joe, sounds like we need a whole new group called Surfer's Anonymous--for Intenet Surfing that is (grin!). It sounds very cool though.

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  5. The internet is my black hole...but my kids are also a lot of fun to procrastinate with!

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  7. It was easier to make up excuses for science paper deadlines: "I had to wait until the system cooled down (or heated up)" or "The people in Germany didn't return my call" or "I had to declassify the data."

    Now it's harder. "My computer was down" is a weak fallback.

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  8. It's definitely easier in the business or academic world I think, Camille. When everything's coming out of your own imagination, we have only ourselves to blame!

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  9. I share office space with eight other writers, all of whom are actively engaged in daily acts of procrastination. Remember wondering how the characters on Friends ever got any work done, since all they seemed to do was hang out drinking coffee and chatting? That's us.

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  10. Michelle, I work at home a lot because when I go into my day job's office, I waste so too much time with my fellow procrastinating coworkers! Clare, I love procrastinating with my daughters more than anyone else!

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  11. Excuses? Let me count the ways.

    I find that if I stall long enough, an excuse usually presents itself somewhere along the way..,

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  12. Hi Robin! Loved your post on Sunday by the way. I'm late commenting on it because I am, of course, procrastinating. My pet peeve in mysteries and thrillers is when the bad guy confesses all at the end to the cop or detective. I have to believe that that almost never happens in real life. Although I sat on a jury a couple of weeks ago where the guy did in fact admit to the crime to the cop. Go figure.

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