To write or not – why procrastination is good for you


I agree with Cristian Mihai’s post about writing and the Muse, but only to a very limited extent – with a caveat or two thrown in to make the debate more fun and add a little kick to the proverbial punch that is writing. You know what I mean, the perfect summer punch of a story – the mix of dreams, sweat, letters forming words, words forming thoughts, thoughts forming actions and so one.

Where was I? Oh yes, on another tangent. Caveats, that’s it.

The Muse IS NOT a figment of my imagination she exists. For she IS my imagination, my need to be, to breathe and to live, to laugh and certainly to write. Tears are shed in her name and letters formed with her guidance.   (And if you hadn’t cottoned on, my muse is a she.)

Yes, I have personified my procrastination for procrastination can lead to perfection. Procrastination is thought and the thoughtless – daydreaming – wasting time doing something when your thoughts are wandering unaided by the strictures and regimes that life places upon us. Procrastination works in measured quantities – though one must be wary not to confuse it with laziness, a trap we all fall into from time to time.

Think of Joyce’s Muse. He was a procrastinator, dreamer, exile – 7 years to write Ulysses is case and point. His Muse wandered off regularly  and yet, he managed to write something lasting:

“I’ve been working hard on [Ulysses] all day,” said Joyce.

Does that mean that you have written a great deal?” I said.

Two sentences,” said Joyce.

I looked sideways but Joyce was not smiling. I thought of [French novelist Gustave] Flaubert. “You’ve been seeking the mot juste?” I said.

No,” said Joyce. “I have the words already. What I am seeking is the perfect order of words in the sentence.”

So, feed your muse, amuse her (or him), while away time in her company and when she is sated she will whistle any tune you want.

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15 comments

  1. Yes, I have been spending time amusing my muse. She let me get out a partially structured half a draft of a novel, then left me. She came back while I was busy putting together an outline (concentrating on the time-line), then she abandoned me.
    Now, in the back of my thoughts I can occasionally hear her muttering to herself as she pieces together her next spurt of inspiration to whisper.

    On the other hand, I also have a male muse. My husband. He has inspired much of my poetry. Whenever I get stuck, or feel that something is incomplete, I read it to him. Invariably something he suggests, or something his thoughts inspire will help me finish the poem.

    Thank you for reminding me to wait for my muse. She is working on my novel…she just isn’t ready to let me in on this part of the project, yet. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment! Muses are important and writing just for the sake of writing is important too, but we must let our imaginations roam free. I love the image of your “muttering” muse! Brilliant!

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      1. Thank you for the compliment! 🙂
        I have no trouble coming up with anthropomorphic versions of things like my muse…it probably stems from the amount of time I have spent reading Terry Pratchett books. lol

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  2. I’m glad someone wrote this! I feel justified now. I often sit down to write and find when I go through my thoughts for the next scene that what’s in my head isn’t quite ready for the transfer to paper/computer. I’ll need to stew on it for a while longer so I’ll go and do someting else, like reading someone’s blog about writing tips…
    Hmm. I don’t believe in muses but I think my muse is female too. (Am I a hypocrite? Yes and no.) I tend to write more female lead characters.
    Good post!

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    1. Thanks… It needed writing if only to encourage myself. I recently read this and that about getting on with it and writing when you least want to and I felt like I was betraying my own Muse (who is probably female because I have read too many Classics classics). Writing should be pleasure and pain juxtaposed to bring out the lyricism within ourselves. It’s hard work, certainly, but it shouldn’t be tortuous. Thank you for your comment and I am so happy that you liked the post!

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  3. Amazingly reassuring. Eventually my muse will find me again and my multitude of story starts will continue into completion, that is, when my muse finally gets off her lazy butt! Yes, she is a she. She is the woman I have always wished I was wise and brave enough to be, although she is kinda bossy towards me when she’s around. Now, how to encourage my muse to come back…

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    1. Well some are prolific and I hate them (more envy than hatel… And others like me have a PhD in procrastination and hindsight, well that’s my official story and I am sticking to it… 🙂

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