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  • Writer's pictureMatt Johnston

An ode to anything that isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing

Aspiring writers don’t own procrastination, but they do seem able to make it an art form. A cursory glance at twitter proves my point. If like me you have gathered an army of similarly hopeful authors as followers you will get a continual deluge of introspection about the countless meaningless distraction you can find to justify not writing - It is good to know I am not alone.

In my case the writing (of the novel at least) has stalled, but I am increasingly intrigued as to the unintentional benefits of finding anything to put off getting the next part of your book down on paper. Twitter is the ‘go to’ medium for the terminally distracted, offering an immediate justification for your inaction – ‘I’m building my online profile’, I tell myself, though how spending hours looking at pictures of other people’s pets is going to sell a single book, I do not know. But this, ultimately, is just the perils of social media. More interesting is the countless offline dithering, and it is also beginning to foster some quite interesting benefits.

Firstly, the house is tidy, well, less messy at least, and the dog can have no complaints as to the amount of exercise it is getting. But this is just amateur procrastination. To turn professional you need preposterous justifications as to how the diversion is in fact helping your writing.

I have bought a banjo, breaking the instrument twice in the process of learning three cords which I cannot formulate into anything approximating music. Why? Well my main character may play the banjo (she doesn’t), or it may be an important prop in the story arch (it isn’t).

Now, not satisfied with the guilt trip of committing time to learning the bloody thing, I have started painting – deciding that I might like to write a book set in a futuristic city (eh?) – so why not paint a map of the place to help structure your book? So, three weeks later and the picture is nearly completed.

But perhaps I do my procrastination a disservice. For while I continue to stutter at the 60,000 word mark in my book – I am healthier because of it, slowly twanging my way to some level of musical competence, and finding great peace of mind drawing countless little streets and parks on a massive 5’ by 2’ canvas. I guess life is about the little things – the little obstacles, especially the ones you put in your own way. A deepening aversion to writing my book has also now created this blog.

So, credit where credit is due – procrastination, thank you for all you have done – now fuck off.

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