As a prolific ghostwriter—and in-general writer—I'll do just about anything to avoid the terrible Blank...White...Page. At this moment, typing these words, I am in fact not writing. How is this possible? Could I, respected practitioner of transparent falsity, conceivably be fibbing?
Basically, a writer is a guy sitting alone in a room making stuff up. I'm doing exactly that, right now—see? There. It's done. Let the philosopher's stone wake to foggy gloom, and find itself Day-Glowed with graffiti based on my Easy 10-Step Program. Did it again.
As in many endeavors, the problem with active procrastination lies in simply getting started. How to begin. Stick to familiar patterns that—once you get going—seem to work. Never over-complicate such practical matters. In short: eschew obfuscation. I'll share an example:
Let's say I am commissioned to write a 40,000-word novel (some would call a piece of this length a novella, and I don't refute that), and sign a contract promising Final Deliverable in five weeks. Man! Did I really agree to that? Hey, they don't call me prolific for nothin', Hoss. Immediately I head over to Amazon, and start reading samples for 2, or 3, maybe 27 new novels. Wait—there's a really cool article over at Fortean Times.com about some Iowa guy who hears voices coming from a Briggs & Stratton lawn-mower engine with 8.75 Gross Torque. But, really, I better get to work writing this novel.
Coffee sounds good, and possibly even required, 'cause all that web-surfing wears on a soul. After repeated attempts to stand, walk into the kitchen, and brew a pot of West Borlo Gin-Roasted Triple-Peel Barn-Builder, I give up. A short-cut enters the prolific mind itself: in the microwave, heat to boiling one cup of water, and add two heaping tablespoons (tblspns?) of instant coffee. Stir. Return to sitting position, and enjoy. This brief excursion into efficiency, worthy of that future hero himself, John Connor, will provide caffeine sufficient to give me the power to brew a pot of slow-drip. There. I did something.
Really ought to start work on this novel or I'm gonna regret it.
Returning from finally brewing "real" coffee, I spy a cock-eyed canary bookmark poking from a moldering paperback copy of Fred Spackleman's 1963 thriller, Call Me Boris and I'll Clean Your Basement. Just under 7 hours later, I've managed not only to drink my coffee, but finish the Spackleman opus, and plow through the first 191 pages of a seed catalog.
Novel. Commission. 40,000 words. Five weeks.
Those cargo pants upstairs, and that Shempish T-shirt from 2002 really could stand a washing.
Around 4AM, I am ready to begin my writing day, thinking only prolific thoughts. Those 10 Easy Steps will just have to wait.