Secret of The Monster

Posted by : E.v.R. | On : August 6, 2008

In most of my experiences inside and outside the topic of writing there is a universal truth I have discovered, that is proven time and time again. I’m just going to get this out of the way so here it is; Procrastination is caused by indecision.

In essence procrastination is not just a lack of action, but also a lack of decision making. Closer to the root of the problem, it is a lack of desire to make a decision. You’re not sure what to do with a character in a scene, or how the plot twist will unfold. So you get out the mop or do the dishes, or watch a movie, or play a game.

There is nothing wrong with doing any of those things, and in fact maybe it’s good that you do because you will quicker realize that the tricky problem that was waiting for you on your story is still there and as long as you avoid it, there is nothing you can do and you will never finish your story.

The more decisions you face up to and make, the less likely you will be to procrastinate. You often see evidence of this after the fact. Once you roll up your sleeves and get down to work, you think to yourself, “Hey that wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. What was I so hung up about?”

Making a decision. That’s what you had hang-ups about.

I have a very apt day-to-day household corollary (coronary?) for this one. When guests are coming over I often have a bad tendency to just shove things in drawers and closets, and worry about what these items are and where they should ideally be (in the garbage, most of em’) at a much later point in time. But then be it six, or eight months, or a year later I’m digging in the closet and I realize that all this drawer and closet-stuffing means I just need to clean the closet. Wherever you go, there it is.

The fundamental issue is that every article or item requires a decision and sometimes I feel overwhelmed and that there are just too many decisions to be made and I just don’t have the time or inclination to make them all.

Until I just go and make 10 decisions and realize the boogeyman doesn’t really exist and sooner, rather than later, is probably better. And all of you out there struggling to write know exactly what I’m talking about! :)

Stories get made a decision at a time. So get busy making a decision or ten. The more decisions the better, and the faster you’ll get the job done. Nobody ever finished a novel or screenplay by refusing to make decisions.

So get on with it!

Comments (6)

  1. PJ said on 06-08-2008

    Thanks for this insightful essay. Procrastination is so paralysing. I’ve spent such a long time thinking through possible life decisions instead of just choosing one and committing to it. The same problem has affected my writing too. As the Nike ad says: Just Do It.

  2. Kathleen Bolton said on 07-08-2008

    Yup, you’ve pretty much nailed it, Eric. I worry that I’m making the wrong decision, which leads to . . . . procrastination. But in writing, at least you can go back and change stuff. Bernard Cornwell says, “just get on with it.” I often think of that quote when I’m waffling.

  3. S William Shaw said on 28-09-2008

    I agree. Great post.

    Sometimes I put so much weight on not so important decisions that I look back wanting to kick myself.

  4. Lisa Alber said on 09-10-2008

    Given the blog post I wrote yesterday, this post hits the nail on the head re: my indeciveness at the moment. Nice insight!

  5. […] think: Sometimes another blogger’s pearl of wisdom takes me by surprise. One wee sentence on Quantum Storytelling’s blog was a welcome slap in the face: “Procrastination is caused by […]

  6. Galeno said on 17-09-2010

    I’m haunted by so many monsters at this time, even knowing they do not exist…