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The Mother of Procrastination

When I was in college, I worked on a public access show called “The Feminist Half-Hour of Power,” which interviewed local feminists and activists in Madison, Wisconsin. Yes, I know it would have sounded better if it was an hour of power, but we were only given 30 minutes from the station, so we had to make it work.

Today, I’m trying to start my “Two Hours of Power” – what I’m calling my two hours of alone time that I’m supposed to “get a lot of work done!” But I’m having the hardest time getting started.

You see, I’ve carefully negotiated no less than two hours of time alone so I can start on my homework for a new writing class I’m taking. My phone is off, I’m at a coffeehouse, but I’m having the worst case of writer’s block. I’m suffering from cafe curse – where you’re settled in with your coffee, laptop open and ready to work, but all of a sudden you notice how crowded and noisy it is inside. You move outside, but the shade is too cold and it’s impossible to see the laptop screen in the sun. I’ve kindof compromised by being half in, half out of the shade but I can feel my elbow getting sunburned.

Annnnd now I’m hit with that mysterious work-induced narcolepsy even though I just drank a bunch of coffee, sugars and calories. Welp!

I'm trying! It's just not happening right now.

I’m trying. It’s just not happening right now.

So I decide to waste some more time on do some research on combating writer’s block and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • No more cafes: “The crowd is the gathering place of the weakest; true creation is a solitary act.” – Charles Bukowski. Oh, and “Avoid cliques, gangs, groups. The presence of a crowd won’t make your writing any better than it is.” – Zadie Smith
  • Reduce expectations: “You starve to death for ten years before your publisher knows you’re any good.” – Raymond Chandler
  • Just do it: “Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper.” – John Steinbeck
  • Forget your audience (sort of): “Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.” – Kurt Vonnegut. Also, what John Steinbeck said: “Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.”

Lastly, my favorite (at least for blogs): “Never write more than two pages on any subject.” – David Ogilvy.

I better stop here.



I used to think being an attorney was a tough job. Then I had kids.

3 responses »

  1. This was a great post. 🙂 I loved all the quotes from established writers, it’s very true though coffeeshops and café’s are the worst idea! Tried it once, sat being infuriated by the inane chatter going on around me – never again. Much better to be in a quiet space. Sometimes however, I listen to music through headphones (instrumental only so I don’t get distracted by words, often movie OST’s) to completely zone out from the world. It works well for me especially when writing fiction because I choose songs to match the mood of the scene I am trying to create.

    • Movie OSTs are a great idea. Thanks for sharing!

      • No problem, it’s always helped me! I can feel really uninspired and then put one on and boom, the words come flowing out (especially if you choose movies that are in the same rough genre as what you’re working on).

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