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Are You a Procrastinator?

Wilma Davidson, Ed.D. Letters Member

The next time you feel guilty about putting off a task, take solace that you're in good company. Edgar Allan Poe was one champion procrastinator. In an 1846 letter to a fellow poet, Phillip P. Cooke, Poe wrote, "I know too well the unconquerable procrastination which besets the poet."

Demosthenes was a philosopher who was also plagued by procrastination. To force himself to stay inside and write, he would shave his head because it was an embarrassment at that time to appear in public that way. (Today, of course, it would be considered fashionable!) And Victor Hugo, of Les Miserables fame was another member of the Procrastinator’s Club. He would hand over his outdoor clothing to his valet, with strict instructions not to return it until he produced the allotted pages.

While your procrastination, I hope, is not as dramatic as these examples, it is still something to be reckoned with. Sometimes, procrastination means whatever you want or need to write isn’t ready to be written and needs more time to percolate. Other times, procrastination is an excuse to avoid the hard work that writing or creating involves. More often, however, a little procrastination may just prompt the inspiration you need. (Note that I said “a little”)

You may have to take a long walk, as Poe often would do to be open to inspiration. Find something that will work for you: clean your desk, take a swim, meditate. Then, get to work creating!

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