The (not so fine) Art of Procrastination

By guest blogger Kenneth Hopkins

So, I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on procrastination. Ironically, I’ve been thinking about it for a while, but I kept putting it off. No, I’m not trying to be funny, or offer some crazy kind of proof, but over time, I have perfected the art – yes the art – of procrastination.

For some people, procrastination is about not wanting to deal with the inevitable. Paying bills, scrubbing the toilet, having those tough conversations, even doing something you love all gets lumped into the same bag and placed on the proverbial shelf for another day. There’s some level of guilt and justification about it, but the action itself is pretty intentional.

My procrastination is guilt-free because I don’t do it intentionally. I have all the right motives. I’m going to do this thing I’m setting aside, I swear, just as soon as I take care of this other thing.

Case in point:  the idea for this piece came as I was mowing the lawn. “Ingenious!” I thought, as the creative juices began to flow just under the roar of the mower. I couldn’t wait to finish the lawn, go inside, and get cracking on the piece. (Of course, if I was really, really excited, I’d have just stopped right there and finished the lawn later… it was the backyard – who was gonna see it?)

Right after I finish the dishes… as soon as the kitchen is spotless… Right after I check on the outlet that has been giving me grief…

On and on it went until days had gone by and I hadn’t written the first word. Now, I have to admit that one of the reasons I procrastinate is because I am deathly afraid of what reactions I will get to my writing. Ah, there it is… the elephant in the room has been discovered… While I am confident in my writing when I am actually writing, getting to the point of clicking the first letter feels like I’m a 5 year old about to step into the ring with an undefeated boxer. So I paint it like art, embracing the procrastination as sheer genius. I almost feel proud of all the things I am able to do while running from the part of myself that longs to be the writer I know I already am.

So as I thought about this piece, as well as the novel I have been working on for way too long, I determined that I was not going to be a professional procrastinator anymore. It’s a challenge, because, well, I’m pretty good at it. I figure I better do some planning. Gotta put some time in my schedule for that thing I’ve put in the corner, my “writing self” staring at me, waiting for me to say, “yes, now it’s time to play.”

This is a new beginning for me. I have determined that this novel I have been living with can no longer be a byword – it has to be written, because that is what writers do… It’s what I do. For this, I am planning, scheduling and, more importantly, giving myself the liberty to fail at procrastination. It’s a good thing to fail at.


Ken-FoWKenneth Hopkins fell in love with writing at age 6 when he started creating comic strips. Since then Kenneth has expanded his writing to plays and poetry, and is currently working on his first novel. During the day, Ken spends his time managing a service team, and at other times he is cooking, playing guitar, or encouraging the music and dance endeavors of his children.

14 Responses to The (not so fine) Art of Procrastination
  1. Marilyn
    December 6, 2010 | 8:02 AM

    Hi Kenneth,

    I loved your piece. It really hit home with me this morning as I have a project due on Wednesday and I will have to spend all day today and tomorrow to get it ready. Not writing. But something I “signed” up to do.

    Funny thing, I just found a little piece of paper that I did when I was 8 years old, maybe younger and it was a comic strip with Bugs Bunny and can’t remember the name now but that cave man. That struck a cord with me as well.

    Good luck with your novel and your right, procrastination is a good thing to fail. May I borrow that? I’d like to put it on a sticky note and place one in every room in my house.

    • Kenneth Hopkins
      December 6, 2010 | 5:00 PM

      Hi Marilyn,

      Feel free to use it. I’m trying to keep it at the forefront of my mind, but sticky notes sounds like a better idea :-).

      Now I’m gonna be thinking about that caveman… hope I don’t get distracted trying to find who he is 🙂

  2. Lois
    December 6, 2010 | 10:07 AM

    I know the art of procrastination. It seems it’s my home life, not my writing, that suffers from it the most lately. Sometimes, though, I do fear what kind of reaction I’ll get from my writing.

    • Kenneth Hopkins
      December 6, 2010 | 5:01 PM

      I hear you on that Lois. I have actually had to push aside some home stuff to focus on the novel, but I’m trying to keep in balance. The funny thing is, now when I cook, the family appreciates it all the more :-). gotta keep ’em wanting, right?

      • Lois
        December 6, 2010 | 9:17 PM

        Right! 😀

  3. @fearofwriting
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    December 6, 2010 | 10:26 AM

    Great stuff, Kenneth! I don’t think you have to worry about that elephant in the room. I was riveted to your article and I feel totally jazzed about your plans. It makes me hungry to clear a big patch in my day for my own writing dreams.

    I also loved your bio. You have a gift for creating interest and you mentioned things that make your life sound rich, despite the procrastination. You can put all that life experience into your writing – exactly as you did while writing about putting things off – and there’s no doubt your readers will be able to relate to your words.

    • Kenneth Hopkins
      December 6, 2010 | 5:06 PM

      Can’t tell you how encouraging your words are to me. it makes me excited to spend some time tonight jumping back into the novel. Thanks so much 🙂

  4. j
    December 6, 2010 | 11:03 AM

    I bet my procrastination could beat up your procrastination. Wait, no, that’s not at all what I meant to write. What I meant to write was more like, “You rock!”

    Excellent post, and a much needed reminder for me.

    • Kenneth Hopkins
      December 6, 2010 | 8:12 PM

      thank you J. (and I would not want my procrastination to fight yours… or maybe I would… I think I need it to be beat up a little 🙂 )

  5. LJ
    December 6, 2010 | 1:53 PM

    Ohhh, I am so very, very guilty of this. I think I’ll take your advice. No more procrastinating! Thanks fir this post. Very motivational. And congrats ti you for taking the first step of admittance 🙂

  6. Kenneth Hopkins
    December 6, 2010 | 8:13 PM

    Thanks LJ

  7. Marilyn
    December 7, 2010 | 7:32 AM

    Ok, 3am it came to me. You may be too young for this, Ally Oop. Not sure of the spelling. Bugs Bunny and Ally Oop. I wish I could show it to you.

  8. Patti Stafford
    Twitter: pattistafford
    December 8, 2010 | 1:27 PM

    Are you sure you weren’t talking about me?

    I love busy work. I love to think about writing. I love the mysterious connotations of being a writer. I love the word eccentric. Doing the actual writing–well, that’s another story here lately.

    You know it’s bad when you’d rather go scrub the toilet than to sit down and face your novel.

    Not long ago I set myself a daily writing limit of 250 words. Very doable and that’s ALL I have to write if that’s all I want to write. It works pretty well. It hasn’t worked today because I’ve found myself blog hopping–but it needed to be done. 🙂

    Awesome post! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Kenneth Hopkins
    December 10, 2010 | 8:27 PM

    Patti, I love the very realistic and attainable daily limit. I’ve been trying to set weekly limits because I don’t always have the daily availability to write, but 250 seems like a number I could do. I’m gonna stick with the weekly for now though, as I work my overall schedule.

    Scrubbing toilets… yeah, i’ve been there 🙂

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