I’ve heard it said that “Procrastination is the thief of time.” and that is close to the truth for me. You’d think that when we say “I’ve always wanted to be a writer” that the first – and every – opportunity we got we’d be writing. But no! It often doesn’t work like that.

Certainly there are times we get an idea and we rush to the computer to share it. We get it down as fast as we can. But then comes the editing.  Or maybe we didn’t quite finish the piece and that initial enthusiasm has disappeared. Or the idea we thought was brilliantly original starts to look a bit flat.

Then, suddenly, we have a need for a cup of coffee, or the desk should be dusted or we ought to return that phone call. Anything at all other than writing.

Addressing all those shoulds and oughts can sound outright virtuous. It’s good to have a dust-free desk, it’s only right to return phone calls promptly. But all the time we are polishing the halo the writing is not getting done.

So really we should say “I’ve always dreamed of being a writer, but only when my desk is dusted, my phone calls up-to-date, and every other time-consuming task I can think of is done.”

That happened to me this afternoon. The computer screen kept looking blankly back at me. So I planned a friend’s birthday celebration, wrote a card to a sick old lady, did some exercise. How virtuous is all that?

Finally I remembered my priorities. I’m a writer, not a party planner. I can exercise later when it’s cooler. For me the key is remembering that writing is my priority. The clean desk, the exercise, all those tasks are red herrings  – distractions, not virtues.

When it’s your writing time, that’s all that matters. All the rest is just doing stuff. When you find yourself drawn by distractions, give your head a shake and get back to business. Well, I finished this post, didn’t I?

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