The overpowering urge to procrastinate

The thing about being a writer is, you have to write. And it's always VERY tempting to do something else. For example, I had an idea last night (after a day spent SHAMELESSLY procrastinating) that might let me work up an acceptable cover for Trang myself, despite my utter lack of drawing talent. Also, there are all those new potential sources for reviews. And you know something? I haven't cleaned the rain gutters in months and months, and I should get some cooking done, and I need to plant those herb starts, and the moss needs to be cleaned off the roof of the shed, and I need to finish painting the guest bathroom, and, and, and, and, and, AND, AND, AND, AND, AND, AND, AND!!!

Yeah, the list is potentially endless. It's especially tempting when it's stuff you "need" to do. (Steam the rug! That's really urgent!) Typically, too, the more I procrastinate the more anxious I feel, and then that makes me feel like the unimportant chores I should get done one of these days are REALLY SUPER IMPORTANT AND URGENT--but the funny thing is, if I were to dedicate the next week or so to doing them all, my anxiety would never lessen, because of course I'm ignoring the One Big Thing I'm supposed to be doing.

There's a number of metaphors about this in literature, not surprisingly. The Terrible Trivum from The Phantom Tollbooth was an early favorite of mine--I remember reading "we have pencils to sharpen, holes to dig, nails to straighten, stamps to lick, and ever so much more" when I was about 10 and just being thunderstruck at how true those words were. More recently, I took a part-time job in what turned out to be a fantastically dysfunctional workplace that sucked up a tremendous amount of my energy and time until I resigned (in protest, because they thought sexual harassment was totally OK--I should mention that this was a workplace that served children). My sister asked me how things were going at one point, and I was like, You know, it's such a meaningless soap opera for me, and even when things are going well, it's just lotus-eating.

So while I know people blame this phenomenon on the Internet or on self-publishing (because traditionally-published writers never have to spend time on ancillary tasks), the truth of the matter is that someone who wants to procrastinate will always find a way. (And the cat stomping all over my computer right this moment doesn't help.) You just have to be strict with yourself.

In other words, Get back to work!