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Sun Sep 13, 2015 12:14 pm Post

At the heart of writer's block is procrastination. We avoid doing something now by claiming we will do it later. The Atlantic has an article on the topic and possible cures here: ... it/379142/


In the last few years, however, scientists have begun to think that procrastination might have less to do with time than emotion. Procrastination "really has nothing to do with time-management,” Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University, told Psychological Science. “To tell the chronic procrastinator to just do it would be like saying to a clinically depressed person, cheer up.”

Instead, Ferrari and others think procrastination happens for two basic reasons: (1) We delay action because we feel like we're in the wrong mood to complete a task, and (2) We assume that our mood will change in the near future.....

This approach isn’t merely self-defeating. It also creates a procrastination doom loop. Putting off an important task makes us feel anxious, guilty, and even ashamed, Eric Jaffe wrote. Anxiety, guilt, and shame make us less likely to have the emotional and cognitive energy to be productive. That makes us even less likely to begin the task, in the first place. Which makes us feel guilty. Which makes us less productive. And around we go.


In one famous experiment, Dan Ariely hired 60 students to proofread three passages. One group got a weekly deadline for each passage, a second group got one deadline for all three readings, and the third group chose their own deadlines. Readers were rewarded for the errors they found and penalized a dollar for each day they were late. Group II performed the worst. The group with external deadlines performed the best. "People strategically try to curb [procrastination] by using costly self-imposed deadlines,” Ariely and his co-author Klaus Wertenbroch concluded, "and [they] are not always as effective as some external deadlines."

The study's results seem a bit different from that described above, so you might want to read it. Here is that study:

--Mike Perry

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Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:35 am Post

It's as natural as breathing.

"We have a task before us which must be speedily performed. We know that it will be ruinous to make delay. The most important crisis of our life calls, trumpet-tongued, for immediate energy and action. We glow, we are consumed with eagerness to commence the work, with the anticipation of whose glorious result our whole souls are on fire. It must, it shall be undertaken to-day, and yet we put it off until to-morrow, and why?" --From "The Imp of the Perverse."

Poe gives the answer: perverseness. Or, as he might say were he alive today, "self-hatred." Nothing's more human. Freud called it the death wish. No reason to be surprised. It's just that old procrastination, masturbation, and fear of castration blues.

My solution is to show up at the same place and time I've set aside to write. The only thing I force myself to do is to stay seated. I wait for an hour or for boredom to win out. I don't think I've ever gone the whole hour without typing something.