Without the last minute, so the old saying goes, nothing would ever get done. Give me extreme pressure, less time than I actually need, and I’ll whip that deadline into shape. And produce something brilliant. Leave the ending open and the task will hang around tormenting me. And anything I do attempt to produce will be flabby or fall flat (in my mind, anyway).
Who can resist the urge to beat the race against time…? (istockphoto.com/Watcha)
Except I thought I was better than that: I’m a consummate planner, with a social diary that is meticulous and varied, and a work diary that is packed and tightly managed. So why is it that a task comes along that I don’t want to do, and the not-doing the task drains more energy than actually doing the task would.
“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task,” says William James.
Here’s another great quote about procrastination: “If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it.” Olin Miller
There’s been a mighty hard job hanging around my shoulders over the last three weeks. Not hard in terms of Continue reading →
I’ve never understood widespread mourning for a public figure. Famous people die, and I think it’s sad, but I’ve never felt the loss before of someone I’ve never met, yet who has touched, inspired and enhanced my life in the way that Steve Jobs has.
I may change my skirt length, accent colour, heel shape, belt width or lipstick shade to suit the season, but there’s one thing I’ll never change, and that’s my Mac. I may have put up with a PC when I’ve had to, but its clunkiness, slowness and downright unsexiness has me sprinting back (yes, even in my high heels) to my thing of beauty: my Mac.
I secured my first job as a journalist on one of those square, tiny-screened Macs, which somehow made writing an article as an intern feel so Continue reading →
When I realise I’ve been procrastinating or avoiding writing my novel – finding distractions in my fridge, my garden or online, – I take a peek at a quote I have pinned up on my wall that reminds me there’s only so much fiddling about I can do. I can either get on with it, or spend the rest of my life wondering and wishing. I can pretend I’m not inspired, or wait for it to strike, or I can sit at my desk and write – and that in itself is inspiration.
This quote sticks a lump to my throat, trickles tears down my cheeks, and triggers my existential concerns. It also gives me a twist of guilt, and a wistful motivation to write the next chapter. Because time is ticking and I haven’t yet achieved by long-held dream of being a published author.
“The song I came to sing
remains unsung to this day.
I have spent my days in stringing
and in unstringing my instrument.
The time has not come true,
the words have not been rightly set;
only there is the agony
of wishing in my heart.”
“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”
Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
William Safire, Great Rules of Writing
For years, I have carried a motivating phrase with me. I put it in the opening page of my diary – so I had to look at it every day – but I’ve never truly understood what it meant, or known whether I could ever live and breathe it. It was an ideal that ‘one day’ I though I would reach.