- You probably need another coffee.
- Go on, take me for a doodle.
- Mmm, what's for lunch?
- A to-do list, you need a to-do list.
- You can't possibly work in an untidy room.
- Just chew on me and look thoughtful for a bit.
For the imperfect mortals among us, there is a bizarre resistance that often has to be overcome before we open the file that contains our work in progress and get on with it. If you haven't got a big excuse, a little one will do : 'If anyone comes in and sees the kitchen floor looking like that, I'll be mortified...'
It's completely irrational. I know that writing is what I like to do more than anything else - whereas I hate having to wash the kitchen floor. Once I sit down and get absorbed, the time simply flies and I'm surprised when I find it's lunch time. I can look at what I've done with a glow of satisfaction that carries me on through the rest of the day.
I can remember in the long-ago days when I was a teacher pupils who had upcoming exams would tell me they 'just couldn't make themselves' get down to revising. An excuse, I thought at the time and was fairly crisp about this kind of problem. But now I wonder, is there something deeper at work than just being easily distracted?
As long as we are writing our book in our head, it is going to be the very best thing we have ever done — probably the best thing anyone has ever done. But whenever something is set down on paper it becomes limited, and however good the writing may be it never quite takes flight with the glorious freedom it had before.
So is procrastination, after all, not just a funny little lazy quirk but a dark, deep-seated fear of failure?