Procrastination: The Eighth Deadly Sin

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Eighth Sin.”

Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony are known as the Seven Deadly Sins that we, mere mortals, were taught not to commit or else our souls will burn in hell. Now for the purposes of this writing prompt, I should imagine the Pope emailed me personally (and maybe a bunch of other writers whose souls he thought might be in need of saving ) and asked me to suggest an eighth deadly sin to add to the existing ones.

It didn’t take me long to come up with the idea, because instead of looking around at other lost souls, I looked within. What is my worst sin that could definitely shoot my soul into the depths of Gehenna? Funny, because I just found out that lying isn’t a deadly sin, and then, I remembered Abraham lied twice (Genesis chapters 12 and 20)! That’s right, liars won’t go to hell. However, I’ll stick to the best policy and be honest. My greatest sin, I think, is procrastination. Guilty as charged. Combined with the other seven, I’m damned!

I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.

~ Rabindarath Tagore

Like many writers, my purpose for writing is to inform, entertain and inspire my readers. I want to become a great writer whose works change lives. Such a lofty aim for someone who barely writes. I have three fiction works in progress and this blog that lurks in my laptop waiting to be written and published, but as you might guess, there’s always something else to do — whether it’s justified as important as cleaning the house, doing the laundry, or socializing on Facebook. I’ll be damned twice!

I needed intervention. Exactly the reason why I joined Blogging 101 in the first place. I’m also reading Akash Karia’s book, Anti-Procrastination for Writers — How to Stop Procrastinating, Start Writing and Create a Daily Writing Habit. I’m not done reading yet, but in the first chapter, Akash points out that writers need self-discipline so we don’t end up wasting the day doing trivial things. We are accountable only to ourselves. He adds that “getting started is the key to beating procrastination” and introduced the solar flaring technique which “refers to starting off by working on a very small piece of the task you’ve been dreading. However, the momentum you gain from starting your task gives you a new burst of energy and allows you to go on to tackle more and more of the project”. Well, that’s just about the book’s first chapter and I’m feeling fired up already.  You won’t be reading this if I’m not, right? So if you’re a sinner like me, stop fidgeting, get your engines warmed up and start writing. Then no one goes to hell.

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Writers Inspiring Writers

George Charles Beresford, 1902
A portrait photograph of Virginia Woolf by George Charles Beresford, 1902

“I wanted mystery, romance, psychology I suppose. And now more than anything I want beautiful prose. I relish it more and more exquisitely. And I enjoy satire more …  I enjoy intellectuality.” — Virginia Woolf, A Writer’s Diary

I guess every writer, who take their art seriously, have been inspired by other writers — dead or alive, young or old, famous or otherwise. My love of writing started with my love for reading. I’ve read perhaps a thousand books running the gamut from mystery to history, romance to theology, fantasy to conspiracy theory. For me, books are like chocolate. Delicious. Seductive. Addictive.

“Therefore I would ask you to write all kinds of books, hesitating at no subject however trivial or however vast. By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream.” — Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

When I decided I wanted to start writing fiction, I took a lot of inspiration from Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. I imagined she had read my mind when she wrote, “Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” 

J. D. Salinger

“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” — J. D. Salinger

My sentiments exactly. I wish J. D. Salinger were my friend after reading The Catcher In The Rye. I would have invited him for dinner and talk about Holden Caulfield’s rebellious character ( because my son is beginning to act like him ). Or join Ernest Hemingway on his boat and sail to Cuba for a week while he gives me tips on writing well.

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.” — Ernest Hemingway

So be it.