Monday, September 16, 2013

Tool #41: Turn procrastination into rehearsal.

. . .Plan and write it first in your head.

Today I am featuring another chapter tidbit from Roy Peter Clark's book, "Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies For Every Writer," published by Little, Brown and Company. You can find a copy here.

Almost all writers procrastinate, so there's a good chance that you do too.  Even among professionals, delay takes many forms.  The film reviewer checks yet another trip to Starbucks, his fourth tall vanilla latte of the day.  The famous scholar stares into space. . . 

The word procrastinate derives from the Latin word cras, meaning "tomorrow." Never write today what you can put off until tomorrow.  With that sentiment, writers experience procrastination as a vice, not a virtue.  During the process of not writing, we doubt ourselves and sacrifice the creative time we could use to build a draft.

     What would happen if we viewed this period of delay not as something constructive, even necessary?  What if we found a new name for procrastination?  What if we called it rehearsal?

    A wonderful teacher of writing named Donald Graves began to notice that even little children engage in this process of mental preparation.  He discovered that the best young writers rehearsed what they wanted to say. . .Put simply, productive authors write stories in their heads. . . Each act of procrastination can become a time of planning and preparation.

And now, Roy gives you a tool to use in his WORKSHOP:

-Have a conversation with a writer who seems to be procrastinating.  In a diplomatic and supportive way, ask open-ended questions about the writing: What are you working on?  How's it going.  It turns out that talking about the writing can transform procrastination into rehearsal, maybe even into action.

Next week, another tool from the "Useful Habits" section: "Do your homework well in advance."  Stay tuned!


  1. This would explain why I always feel inspired after attending writing group. And I always come home and write, write, write.


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Journey into the Promised Land

Journey into the Promised Land
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