Huffpost UK Culture uk
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Deborah C Dooley Headshot

The P Word and LM

Posted: Updated:

'Suck my toes,' she commanded, with a regal toss of her head.

This is the kind of opening line which demands attention, from both reader and writer. The other thing it does very well is to snap the latter out of that very bad habit of staring emptily at screen or notebook - which makes it a useful piece of writing indeed.

Procrastination is the long name for faffing around with endless mugs of coffee, emails, pencil sharpening - all those things that delay the moment at which a writer begins to write.

Procrastination is a much discussed subject in all worlds that lay claim to being writerly in any way. It is a magnificently onomatopoeic word - just saying it gives rise to lethargy - and at our writer's retreat, we are no strangers to it. Procrastination can, in short, be the curse of anyone who has ever called themselves a writer.

One guest at our retreat, most notable for her frequent absences, is Lady Muse. She is, I have to say, a bitch. And a thoughtless one at that. Having promised the earth to those unfortunate enough to be enslaved by her dubious charms, she rarely delivers. Preferring, it seems, to whisper tantalisingly of verbal fluidity and literary magnificence - and then perform a devastating no show. Leaving a trail of miserably stunned writers in her wake, who can do no more than lament her lack of substance and wait with fading hope and increasing desperation for her next appearance.

We who are world weary writers know that waiting for LM is a recipe for writing disaster. Fickle is her middle name and frankly, relying on her appearance can only lead to despair of the darkest kind, as is the case with any such one sided relationship. Which is where the toe sucking thing comes in.

Sit down at your screen or with your notebook, and instantly, before it has a second to lull you into a state of tedious procrastination (forcing you to go and make coffee/check your emails/twiddle with your pencils) hurl at it some shockingly random words. No matter that they may well eventually be consigned to the bin, now is the moment to revel in their simple presence, and savour the feeling of producing something on screen or paper. This, dear writer, is a lot better than the P word.

Now, take back the power, tell Lady Muse to go to hell, and write some more.