One of These Days I am Going to Write a Book about Procrastination

But not today, I’ve got too many things going on. Maybe tomorrow or the next day, but not today.

One of the more insidious aspects of living in a world where constant change is the norm, is most change does not occur so quickly we need to change anything or do anything right now.

Tomorrow we’ll decide. One of these days I’ll do something, but not today. I’ve got too much going on today. Tomorrow is good.

I am not talking about whether you start writing today or make sure you read a certain book, clean out a closet or get the oil changed in your car. Those things are comparatively small procrastinations.

I am addressing the issue of big things. Important things. It’s an interesting conflict for sure.

The lack of immediate consequences to change due to inaction or procrastination lulls someone into thinking, “Maybe we don’t need to change!”

As ebooks seemingly leveled off at 20% of book sales instead of destroying print completely, maybe we don’t need to learn anything about them after all! The entire digital thing is complicated and confusing. What is DRM anyway?

The lack of immediate consequence earlier is the reason most people, companies, organizations, churches, towns or even countries only make substantive, important changes or take strong definitive action when they absolutely must act. If we don’t do it today, we won’t be around tomorrow. There are many examples of personal and broader issues only addressed when the world was about to collapse around them and there was no more time to procrastinate.

We must act immediately.

So, publishers don’t need to make substantive change to the way they do business today. Tomorrow is better.

Authors don’t need to learn about social media interaction and develop a ready-made audience for their book today. Tomorrow is even better. Or sometime next week.

Consequences are rarely so imminent we can’t just handle the issue next week and still be okay. Wait, we’ve got some vacation time next week and then there’s inventory the following week, so, let’s put it on the calendar for next month.

We live in a world where change is occurring constantly, but since it won’t be different this afternoon or tomorrow morning. We can always address the issue later.

But a word of caution to authors…there are so many people trying to get published and many of them are aggressively training their minds and work processes to adapt to new realities.  They feed their intuition every day.

Your competition is not procrastinating.

Just as the 12-16 year old future Olympians training now for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, there are authors training their minds, honing their craft and working on writing projects which won’t see the light of day for years.  Sure, they could probably take a day or week or month off, but they don’t.

Because the world is changing so fast and in so many areas, one of the most valuable personal traits is to be a life-long learner. Learn something new every day. You don’t toss away eternal truth, but you pick up some new ways to communicate it.

A recurring theme in my blog posts is the call to be serious about your writing. The competitive writing market demands those who participate work hard now.

Just as no one picks up world-class pole-vaulting in a few months, so authors don’t become good at their craft in a short time. It could take years of work.

Start today.

20 Responses to One of These Days I am Going to Write a Book about Procrastination

  1. Barbara July 26, 2016 at 5:34 am #

    Thanks for this reminder, Dan! Sometimes it just feels like we’re chugging along without anything to show for all the long hours, but when I’ve prayed about how to move forward, God speaks, “Be faithful.” And so, I just try to learn another new thing today, and practice the old learning from yesterday.

  2. Richard Mabry July 26, 2016 at 5:45 am #

    Dan, An accurate–but disturbing–word for everyone involved in publishing, from authors to agents to publishers. Thanks (I guess) for the nudge.

  3. Niki Schemanski July 26, 2016 at 5:53 am #

    So good. What a great challenge you’ve presented – bringing it from a global issue to a very author-personal issue.

  4. Shulamit July 26, 2016 at 6:00 am #

    This morning I read this answer on

    The writer was working an office career, successfully. Then he was on the seventh floor of a deadly fire (in India) in 2012. As he thought he was going to die, it wasn’t his life that flashed before him, it was his unfulfilled desire to go into music–that he had put off indefinitely–that did.

    A coma and two weeks in ICU later, he decided. He left his job, relocated to the music capital of India, eventually was able to move his family to join him, and now has a successful career in music. 4 years.

    Only after watching his secretary die, and thinking he was next, was he able to commit to the artistic career he had longed for.

    I pray that none of us has to go through anything that dramatic, and can just read his stunning account of what put him past procrastination, and learn from it.

    Today really is the first day of the rest of your life.

  5. Carol Ashby July 26, 2016 at 8:05 am #

    Spot on, Dan!

    Cartoon showing a sign on the door of a classroom:
    Procrastinators Anonymous
    Meeting postponed until next Wednesday

    Your truck might get stuck on the muddy road to success, but if you never turn on the ignition and put it in gear, for sure you’ll never get there. The surest barrier to success on any project is putting off starting it.

  6. Brad July 26, 2016 at 8:45 am #

    Dan, a most timely tap-on-the-shoulder. Reminds me of another bromide I’ve copied for my inspiration corner, and it applies to authors as well.

    Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed…every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle…when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

  7. B. Ricker July 26, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    One of these days I am going to write a book – so I did. Your insight into the changes of yesterday, today, and tomorrow prompted this response. This is a first in my 74 years to write to someone I don’t know, have never seen, and all in a process I don’t understand! Blogging and DRM? Words I don’t even know. I live today but with thoughts of yesterday, writing words from yesterday, lives of yesterday, and it all brings peace for today. This world of today with all its electronic gadgets frightens me beyond belief. My old IBM Selectric is a safe and known in my world – so my stories greet my world as fast as my old arthritic fingers can fly! My 25 year old Grandson just walked by “Gram, you don’t write letters on a blog – just throw out your quick thoughts.” So Dan Balow keep up your thoughts and advice about writing books – for now I will just keep mine in my Grandma’s cedar chest – I’m too intimidated by this world to do anything with my writings. But who knows? When the sun comes up, I will be writing. You are encouraging! Hurray – Gram’s first blog!

  8. Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D. July 26, 2016 at 9:35 am #

    Dan, thank you so much for your posting today. I know that the man who has his blogs planned out until October of 2017 is not a procrastinator, but I have been dragging my feet about setting up a blog and website for my writing. No more! Based on the inspiration and encouragement the Steve Laube Agency has given me over the past few months, I am stepping out this very week and getting my son (who owns his own computer science business) to set up a website for me. No more putting it off or avoiding the new realities of life! Thanks ever so much!

    • Carol Ashby July 26, 2016 at 10:42 am #

      I’m right there with you, Sheri. I’m not a procrastinator in general, but doing all the online presence stuff…well, I’ve been way too neglectful there. Past time to change that.

      I’ve done massive amounts of research for my historical novels, which was a treat for a history buff who loves to read obscure tomes crammed with historical details (like Crook’s “Law and Life of Rome 90 B.C. – A.D. 212”). I’ve known I needed an author website for a couple of years, but it took Ben Hur coming to the theaters August 19 to light a fire under me to write up a bunch of articles based on what I’ve learned in a format suitable for teachers, home schoolers, and history buffs like me. Some moviegoers will be searching for Roman topics, and I’d be a fool not to try to serve them something while they’re still hungry.

      You’ll be up this week because you have a skilled son. I wish mine did websites instead of musical theater. I’m shooting for the Ben Hur premier date, but I still have to select the right WordPress theme and get a site mounted by myself. I’d rather be writing on my WIP, but if I want others to read my novels, I have to do all the discoverability work first. No more procrastination allowed.

      I’ll be clicking on your name here to see when you’re up.

      • Linda Riggs Mayfield July 26, 2016 at 11:43 am #

        If I can select a WordPress theme and get a site up and running, you certainly can! Just don’t set aside an hour or an afternoon to do it–say “I’m going to start on this today,” and if you start AND finish setting it up in a day, that’s great, but if not, you at least made a start. One of the great things about WordPress is that you can start and stop anytime, and everything is saved. Another is that once you choose that theme and post your first blog, you can go back and change themes at any time with the click of a key, and all your lovely information will automatically transfer, so you’re not stuck with something you wind up not liking. Keep us posted!

        • Carol Ashby July 26, 2016 at 11:50 am #

          WordPress (.org) is going to be my CMS for, so the blog is only a small part. I WISH it was as simple as starting a blog! I got the WP for Dummies book to help. It looks pretty comprehensive in its explanations of what to do, but pray for me anyway.

    • Dan Balow July 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      My blog planning is out of control…I have topics through February 2018 now.

      I need to get out more.

  9. Kathy Sheldon Davis July 26, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    I appreciate this so much today, Dan. I’m at my treadmill desk right now – not putting my writing off another second. Thanks, millions!

    • Dan Balow July 26, 2016 at 11:58 am #

      “Treadmill desk” sounds awful. A Lay-Z-Boy lounger desk sounds more productive for me.


    • Carol Ashby July 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm #

      Sounds good to me, Kathy. My husband made a laptop tray for our exercise bike. I can block out that I’m exercising (if I don’t set the drag too high or pedal too hard) when I’m writing, too.

  10. Carla Jo July 26, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    Couple thoughts:
    1. A daily missionary prayer blog just this week agonized the thousands going out to fix and change the nasty, for fun, ruiners of their web site. I don’t have thousands.
    2. Continuing on my self-made learning, daily writing craft program still leaves room for the waiting on G-D times. Using spiritual listening does not negate other earth skills and action work. Beware of lazy.
    3. This makes me think of the last line in Gone With The Wind.
    4. As irritating as my husband’s need to address things in a constant state of, “Now.” there is often great value and thankfulness in that. He has no gear of ‘later.’
    5. This post is a great reminder to write a list every night for tomorrow’s review of sequencing. Start doing that again.
    6. Forgive myself for today’s and yesterday’s lack, to clear my soul’s self attack and start immediately fresh, again.
    7. Consider: how can I creatively do what I think is undoable but what is required? What action can I do today toward that immovable requirement?
    8. Find 5 things to be grateful about, again.
    9. Do not stop, no matter what.

  11. Patti Jo Moore July 26, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    I was going to read this blog post later, but SO glad I went ahead and read it *now* – – thank you! Just the nudge I needed. 🙂

  12. Peter DeHaan July 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    I think I’ll read this post tomorrow.

    • Dan Balow July 26, 2016 at 2:31 pm #

      Someday is good.

  13. Jenelle M. July 26, 2016 at 7:51 pm #

    This was good for me to help differentiate between procrastionation and breaks. Too often I tell myself it’s the latter, but then my conscience (HS) nudges me that I’m making excuses.

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