How to stop procrastination

Reading time: About 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today I discuss an article about procrastination by Merrill Markoe. 

I’ve long believed that the secret to writing effortlessly is linked to writing first thing in the morning. I learned this trick when I produced my first book, 8 1/2 Steps to Writing Faster Better, and I’m employing it again, now that I’m working on my second.

I’d always assumed the write-first-thing principle arose out of the creative brain’s relative relative comfort with sleepiness (and the concomitant impatience of the critical brain with it). But I never had a shred of neuroscience to back me up.

I still don’t. But at least I’ve found another writer who feels the same way.  In a charming piece published Jan. 18/14 by the New York Times, humourist Merrill Markoe explains how she cured her procrastination with writing. Unable to walk — even to fetch a coffee or the newspaper — for six weeks before hip surgery, she started writing first thing in the morning.

She was astonished to discover how quickly the words arrived. That this admission should come from a woman who’s already published nine books (!) made me pay attention.

I try not to push people into getting up early to write. I spent most of my earlier life as a night owl (I became a morning lark — without trying — about six years ago) and I can remember how difficult I found it to awake. But I think there’s great truth to the notion that writing is easier when you are half asleep. Read Markoe’s piece and see what you think.

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