On Avoiding Writing

Usually, writers will do anything to avoid writing. For instance, the previous sentence was written at one o’clock this afternoon. It is now a quarter to four. I have spent the past two hours and forty-five minutes sorting my neckties by width, looking up the word “paisly” in three dictionaries, attempting to find the town of that name on The New York Times Atlas of the World map of Scotland, sorting my reference books by width, trying to get the bookcase to stop wobbling by stuffing a matchbook cover under its corner, dialing the telephone number on the matchbook cover to see if I should take computer courses at night, looking at the computer ads in the newspaper and deciding to buy a computer because writing seems to be so difficult on my old Remington, reading an interesting article on sorghum farming in Uruguay that was in the newspaper next to the computer ads, cutting that and other interesting articles out of the newspaper, sorting—by width—all the interesting articles I’ve cut out of newspapers recently, fastening them neatly together with paper clips and making a very attractive paper clip necklace and bracelet set, which I will present to my girlfriend as soon as she comes home from the three-hour low-impact aerobic workout that I made her go to so I could have some time alone to write.”

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  • http://bigcircumstance.com/ Dave Faulkner

    Yep. Sounds like the sermon I'm trying to write now.

  • http://flowerdust.net anne jackson

    i laughed so hard i cried!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/MonikaM MonikaM

      ha! I am relating:)

  • Pat Marcantel

    You have channeled me! It's so good to know I'm not alone with my stored (in no order, of course) newspaper, magazine & whatever articles, snippets, etc.
    Thanks for a good, refreshing, LOL read!

  • http://www.melakamin.com Mela Kamin

    See – if I just logged all the "stops" I make in the course of a day, I'd realize why I never seem to get anything done, but am exhausted by mid-afternoon

  • http://www.kaylafinley.com Kayla

    Hmm. Sounds like a lot of trouble. I kill that much time on Twitter. And reading blogs. Thanks for your help in denying myself of a livelihood and career.

  • http://www.cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com Cheri Gregory

    Oh, I will so be using this with my English IV and AP Lit & Comp students next year!!!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/MonikaM MonikaM

    This made me laugh and cry all in the same breath. Literally. I'm laughing b/c this is so human. I feel thoroughly understood. I discovered this last hour that eating HoHos and chewing on my cuticles are perfect ways of distracting myself:) Only in Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" did I laugh this hard b/c I identified on some level. It triggered tears b/c, once again, it was a confirming kind of unexpected confrontation that I give a rip. Yes, I do. I give a rip about writing. The smaller distractions are only a shadow of a much larger entity who seems to be relentless to sidetrack and suffocate our voices at times. I'm done with the HoHos. Now, where are the Cheetos?:)

  • http://cherylbarker.blogspot.com/ Cheryl Barker

    How true :) Sounds like me when I'm trying to get started on something new. That's when I have the most trouble with actually getting to work. Thanks for the smile today :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    I'm totally with you on this one!

    Now, where do I find that article on sorghum farming in Uruguay?

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  • http://anam-cara.typepad.com Shelia

    Ha!! This is hilarious! And….tragically…like looking in a mirror. Well, except, I have no neckties.

  • http://www.fallible.com Katy McKenna

    Just a wee little bit distracted! :) I would add that checking today's exchange rates and searching the travel sites for best fares to Glasgow—which is just a short stagger from Paisley—can take the better half of a writing day. And then finding your passport can consume the second half. Simplify!

  • http://ComplicitSimplicity.com allan

    I’m sure inspiration will strike as soon as his girlfriend gets home, and they have to leave for a dinner engagement.

  • Alex

    Oh my goodness, a writer who doesn't check spelling. It is Paisley not Paisly. It is on the southwestern outskirts of Glasgow. I would tell you more but I have to go sort my rhubarb collection by length and colour before I can write another word,

  • Chantelle

    This is so unfortunately true. When you write on a whim, it's fine, being it's voluntary , but when there's a deadline. well, forget writing. I need to change the stings on my guitar a couple of times, gotta be thorough , right? Andd, after that I'll need to weave myself a bracelet using the old strings. Then I should make a scarf, Just because I can. oh, look at that. missed the deadline.
    oh well.

  • Leilani

    Awesome…I fit right in rotflmao

  • Jimmy

    I am Uruguayan and prowd of our sorghum farming! hah

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  • http://matthewbreuer.com Matthew Breuer

    This is

    • Matthew

      Duh! I forgot to finish my comment. I was going to say, "This is so true," but I got distracted by trying to get the OpenID feature to work and absentmindedly pressed submit. Goes to show that people need to learn to focus, just as a writer needs to set a word goal, and then just write.

  • http://www.itdoescompute.com mike

    Totally true. In fact, I'm reading and commenting on this instead of writing something. Thanks for the distraction.

  • http://nmwoodworks.com/life Bill in Detroit

    Sounds like me. I can write like a wildman until I get too tired to write at all … only to find that the muse has no handles and is hard to pick up again.

  • http://theantiquarianchronicles.blogspot.com Jerry

    I'm glad I'm not the only one who likes to play with paper clips. I might have to rethink my aversion to neckties, too. Enjoyed this immensely!

  • http://lovinthearts.blogspot.com LauraLee@Selah

    Oh my goodness, I am in stitches. I can't believe how true this is!

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.blogspot.com sarah mae

    Ha! I seriously thought I must not be a "real" writer because I avoid writing as well – even though I have things to say! I feel relieved now that I know I'm in good company!

  • http://digitalcitizen.co.za Wogan

    Too true! There's always a million other more interesting things to do – and you're kicking yourself for not writing anything all the way through…

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  • ShellOKC

    This was so fantastic! I am an avid collector of strange hobbies in an attempt to avoid getting my writing done. It's quite impressive!

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  • http://www.tiggyblog.com Tiggy

    And to think I found this site while I was trying to avoid doing any writing! Serves me right!

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  • http://twitter.com/GayleeGayle @GayleeGayle

    My stomach hurts from laughing while reading the entire article… while avoiding writing.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Mishap Mishap

    Funny! :-) True every time I need to write. Every time! No matter how short/long, simple/complicated the writing assignment.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/matthewdbenson matthewdbenson

    Seems that a lot of people see this as an example of how difficult it is to write (also the headline), but you can look at it differently:

    Sometimes people just need inspiration; after writing the first sentence, the author then spent some time doing things that generated content for him to complete his post (was PJO'R really writing a blog when he wrote that???).

    In the end he managed to write a post that continues to be read and passed on by many. Glass half full.

  • http://www.myspace.com/redbanners J.L.

    Ha, ha … ouch!…

  • http://www.lwpm.blogspot.com Tracy

    Thank you so much for this post, I truly thought I was alone in this. How true this article is!

  • http://need-flat.ru/ cymnImimips

    Спасибо за блог, очень грамотно все сделано. Все-таки stand-alone лучше, чем на livejournal и прочих.

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  • http://kassota.wordpress.com tam

    oh how i relate so well to this. and…im commenting here instead of writing :-/

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1223380516 Annissa Peavy

    While I am not a writer in the true sense of the word, I am a Christian business woman who tries to use social networks and a blog to expand. I rarely get around to doing so. Thanks for a laugh and motivation to stop procrastinating so much. ish I was OCD about organization, now that would be WORTH putting my writing off to me since the longer I am in business (8 years online Bible sales now) the less paperwork I file, while my office looks out of order at all times! Thanks for the insight!
    Every Blessing from our LORD!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/joannamuses joanna

    This is so true. For me Wikipedia is bad news when i should be writing. It might start on an entirely relevant topic but it doesn't take too many clicks before you are reading about Papua New Guinian minority languages, the history of lolcats or the use of punctuation in metal band's names.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/success2you John Richardson

    Somebody said, "Just Start Writing."

    It doesn't have to be profound, in fact it can be just plain gibberish.

    It works every time I try it.

    It's the "trying it part" that is just so hard to do….
    My recent post Do You Have a Heartfelt Goal?

  • http://tonikaynelson.com Toni

    I once told a published author "Oh, I can only write when the spirit moves me." She promptly replied "if you are serious, you will sit and attempt to write everyday."

  • http://newvinegrowing.wordpress.com Colleen

    True true — but also not exclusive to writers. My business school classmates used to joke about all the other tasks that looked really attractive when there was homework to do: cleaning the bathroom, going grocery shopping, anything but the thing you should be doing.

    I loved an article on overcoming procrastination by Christine Kane that advocated, among other things, giving yourself permission to do it badly, taking advantage of small chunks of time and stopping asking how you feel about a task and just doing it.


    Thanks for sharing!
    My recent post My life goals in painting form

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    He's my hero simply for sentence length alone!
    My recent post Spotty blogging

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Peter_P Peter_P

    He's my hero simply for sentence length alone!
    My recent post Spotty blogging

  • karena

    that is exactly what i am experiencing. maybe i am a true writer?

  • http://www.tiepedia.com matt@neckties

    I love to avoid writing. I should be avoiding writing this comment. But, I liked the article… thanks!

  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/jenniferjanes Jennifer Janes

    So funny! And, unfortunately, so true. I can relate too.

  • Karyn Brownlee

    Hilarious! I wonder how many, like me, are avoiding writing right now by stopping to read this post?
    My recent post Follow the Leader

  • http://mandythompson.com mandythompson

    Yep. Completely and utterly true.

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  • http://shellieneumeier.com Shellie Neumeier

    Yup, that would be why I'm scanning blogs, facebooking and following my twitter-buds:). Time for a snack. . .

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  • http://intensedebate.com/profiles/beyondthedpad BeyondTheD-Pad

    Oh so true… I am having that trouble right now which is why Ia m here. Heh!

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  • http://www.brianhinkley.com Brian Hinkley

    I would like to get started writing. My enemy is lack of sleep. I am so exhausted by the time I sit down to write that I just space out.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I have experienced myself this in my life.

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  • Concha

    Thank God I am not the only one :))) Thanks for sharing it!