The art of procrastination – Nan Rossiter

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By Nan Rossiter

When I was asked if I’d like to contribute a guest blog for the weheartwriting website, I was thrilled. As I considered my schedule, though, I wondered if I’d have ample time or if I would — as so often happens — be scrambling to get something written at the last minute. Surely, I thought, my new manuscript will be finished by mid-June and I’ll have plenty of time. I wrote back, affirming my interest, and in a moment of wisdom, jotted the words: Write blog June 24 on an index card already covered with scribbled notes.♥

Several days went by, and as I continued to work on my manuscript, the index card was shuffled under other cards — the use of index cards is a new tactic I’ve employed after reading Anne Lamott’s wonderfully reassuring book on writing, Bird By Bird. Needless to say, the card not only slipped out of sight — it also slipped from my mind — until yesterday, when I happened to be looking for something I’d written on a card that was related to my manuscript — which still wasn’t finished even though mid-June had come and gone — and when I finally located the card, I saw the words: Write blog June 24 and my heart jumped as I tried to discern what day it was. Thankfully, I hadn’t missed the deadline.

As I walked the dog this morning — an activity frequently followed by vacuuming — I tried to think of a topic I could write about that other writers would be able to relate to. I know from experience that there’s nothing more comforting to a writer than finding out she’s not alone in her endeavors or in facing obstacles — especially when she actually spends so much time alone. As I washed the breakfast dishes and threw a load of laundry into the washer, an idea came to me — after all, writers are told to write about the things with which they are familiar, and since I always have to have all my chores done before I can actually sit down and concentrate on writing, I decided to write about a subject I know all too well —procrastination!

Many people think that sitting down at a desk to write a book is a lovely, simple endeavor, but in truth, it’s not lovely at all, and it’s certainly not simple. Sitting down to write a book takes a mother lode of self-discipline because — especially these days — it’s very easy to get distracted. In the old days — the days of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Dinesen and Markham — there was no internet; a writer just sat at his or her desk with pencil and paper in hand and a cup of coffee or glass of scotch nearby, and they did what they were supposed to do — they wrote!

Today, most writers work on a computer where the alluring internet is just one click away. In the old days, news sites, Facebook pages, and your email wasn’t just one click away; there was no compulsive shopping for new running shoes or dog beds whenever your mind wandered from the task at hand; there was no checking your sales rank … or the ranks of authors with whom you secretly compete.

In modern times, being a writer requires not only talent; it also requires self-discipline. It’s easy to become distracted — especially when those pesky household chores call out for attention, or when you’re home alone … with the dog, whose sad gaze convinces you it’s time to go for a hike!

I’m hoping I’ll be able to finish my new manuscript by the end of June now. I just have to return a couple of things to the mall first.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Nan Rossiter’s adult fiction is often compared to the work of Nicholas Sparks – especially her first novel, The Gin & Chowder Club. Her new novel Firefly Summer is an uplifting story of the resilience of sisterhood and the bright glimpses of joy and solace that, like fireflies after rain, can follow the deepest heartaches. Nan lives in rural Connecticut with her husband, two handsome sons, and a black Lab named Finnegan.

1 Comment

  1. poet31

    August 1, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    So true! Always outside temptation waiting especially in this day and age! I can relate to this as I love doing my thinking whilst doing the chores. Avoids the sitting with a blank page scenario!

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