The Difference between Procrastinating and Waiting

It’s taken me this long, 10+ years since I started writing again, to mostly be able to tell the difference between procrastinating and waiting.

Procrastinating is when I have something to write, but it feels too hard, or I’m being lazy, or I just can’t get started (because writing is scary, yo!).

Waiting is when things need time to come together in my mind, thought A colliding with thought T; the idea for a scene that’s not quite right yet because I’m looking at it wrong or because it’s default, it’s boring, it needs to be turned on its head or twisted 30 or 125 degrees before it’s right for what I’m working on; or it’s something I’ve got wrong and until I figure out what it is and go back and fix it, I can’t go forward.

The things I do when I’m procrastinating look very, very similar to what I’m doing when I’m waiting, but the internal feeling is very different. If I’m procrastinating there’s an edge of irritation, of impatience, directed at myself, that I’m not writing and I should be writing. It might take a bit for me to notice, acknowledge and act on it, but it’s there.

When I’m waiting, I have to wait. I can’t rush it. I can’t force it. I can coax it, by feeding the garden inside me where my writing comes from, by reading fiction and non-fiction and watching TV (sometimes really great fiction and TV, sometimes really bad fiction and TV), exercising, hanging out with friends. Whatever fills the well.

Sometimes I still get it wrong. Sometimes I’m procrastinating when I think I’m waiting, and vice versa. But slightly more often than not, I’m finally figuring it out.

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