Wednesday, May 30, 2007


A blank screen has been staring at me for three hours now. The clock ticks down. My deadline is getting closer. It’s like the old game show Name That Tune. Yes, Bob, I can write that article in less than 30 minutes. . . .

Writers debate a lot about procrastination. In general, it is looked at as if it is a bad thing, like you have some flaw in your character if you procrastinate.

I’ll admit it now. I’m the world’s greatest procrastinator. Granted, my editors might not want to hear that, but I get my work done and the work I produce is pretty good. I work better under the gun.

A friend of mine told me that she has a deadline of October 1 for an article that she began to research back in February. Nearly 9 months to write an article? Yikes. She is struggling to write it and finish it. I’d be the same way. Oh heck, I would have stopped thinking about that article until September.

And in fact, something like that did happen to me last year. I was given an assignment with a 4-month deadline. It wasn’t something that was going to require a lot of research, so I marked a few notes to myself on my calendar when I planned to start again and promptly forgot about it. Two months in, my editor began to email me – where is the article?

The editor accused me of procrastination. She worried that I wouldn’t give her the article she wanted. She worried I’d be late. The article was on time and she loved it, and she asked me to pitch again. I decided not to.

One of the things I love about freelancing is working at my own pace. I am usually juggling five to six articles at any given time, so I know how to spread out my work to make the most efficient use of my time.

Is it procrastination when you get your work done on time, even though you find yourself racing the clock, knowing you do your best work under pressure?

My opinion has long been, like everything else in writing, you have to do what works best for you. If you like working with long deadlines and pull your article together early so you can play around with rewrites, that’s fine. But if you don’t, that’s fine, too.

However, if you are playing 50 straight games of solitaire to avoid the article at hand, that’s a whole different story.


Marijke Vroomen-Durning said...

I'm the same way Sue. I did the same thing with school assignments. If I wrote a paper well before it was due, I'd only get a mediocre mark. If I wrote it under pressure because the deadline was looming, I'd most often walk away with an A.
I've tried writing my articles well in advance, but it just doesn't work for me.

Karen said...

I am so the same way! I recently started freelancing and I am having a hard time delegating my time and being my own boss. I'm hoping to cultivate some better habits soon!