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Tomorrow is not a suitable day for doing things

For two years I have been trying to do most of my writing tomorrow. This has never worked.

I can’t think of a single time I’ve been able to do my writing any time other than today.

Historically, I’ve avoided doing it today (of all days) because I’m afraid of certain moments that can only happen when I write today. I can be halfway through an article and realize it’s going nowhere. Then it’s either toss it and start again, or try to massage it into something I don’t hate. That’s always a painful moment and I never want it to happen today.

Sometimes it’s an even more painful version of that moment. I might have the thought that not only does the current piece suck, but most of them do. I don’t usually think that but when I do it hurts.

Those moments aren’t scary at all when I know they can’t happen today. When they’re tomorrow’s problem they become remarkably easy to deal with.

So my strategy, most of the time, has been to write tomorrow. Normally I write today only when I have to.

Sometime Saturday morning I stopped wanting to write tomorrow. I only want to write today now. Mentally, it’s a really different place than I’m used to — much more upbeat, much more inspiring — and I landed there after finally facing a heavy, unforgiving fact: I can’t write tomorrow.

It’s a mechanical impossiblity. There is nothing you can do tomorrow. I have never done anything tomorrow and neither have you.

If doing it today might hurt, then either you open yourself to that pain or you decide it’s not something you’re prepared to do at all.

Maybe you don’t write, but I’d bet money there’s something important to you that you’re always trying to do tomorrow. Good luck. Tomorrow is not a suitable day for doing things.


Tobi July 19, 2012 at 1:12 am

I have been reading about some scientific discoveries on procrastination and laziness that I am finding quite disturbing. I think you might be interested to take a look.



How can we overcome undesirable behavior if it is hereditary?

SusieR July 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

Brilliant insight. As usual! xos

Basil Stathoulis July 19, 2012 at 3:08 am

This is brilliant. Good writing!

Tina July 19, 2012 at 3:13 am

This was exactly what I needed to hear to do what I need… TODAY.

Derza Fanistori July 19, 2012 at 3:20 am

You’re getting better by the minute in nailing the right way to say hard things. Thank you for your persistence and for honing your skill so studiously. It is a pleasure and rapture to watch you do that.

Kristen July 19, 2012 at 3:51 am

This post came just at the right time, as I was deciding to go running tomorrow. I’ll digest my breakfast and get out there while the sun is shining!

Grinny July 19, 2012 at 4:13 am

The day after tomorrow works best for me. For Mark Twain also, I believe.

The Fuddler July 19, 2012 at 4:30 am

“Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday” – popular saying during the 1970s.

Seriously, procrastination, as I think you yourself pointed out, is never about laziness. It’s about verbal stage fright. Only way I know of to get outta the trench is to go over the top.

I actually met poet Jim Carroll (“Basketball Diaries”, “People Who Died”). He was doing a writing workshop. His stand-out piece of advice was don’t be afraid to write absolute dreck. “Let it be as bad as it wants to be” is what he told me. I don’t always follow that advice, and it’s cost me. But it’s a sound piece of advice nonetheless.

David July 20, 2012 at 6:55 am

Willingly writing what sucks is something I’ve struggled with, even though I’ve known for a long time that there’s no way around it.

This helped me:


Julie July 19, 2012 at 6:12 am

so well said

LL July 19, 2012 at 7:10 am

I love all your writing David. It resonates with me on a deep level. Thank you! This particular article is a little gem!

Style Maniac July 19, 2012 at 7:40 am

One of the joys I’ve found in blogging is that I can’t wait to write right now. As opposed to the procrastination that would happen when I used to have to write about topics I cared nothing about. Oh what a difference loving what you do makes.

(p.s. found you via SusieR)

GoodGravyBoat July 19, 2012 at 8:13 am

Yep. I have always been able to plan for great accomplishments…tomorrow. Tomorrow always holds much more hope than today.It’s an easy trap to fall into. Nice post.

Susan July 19, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thank you David..I work in nutrition/health, and try hard to relay this same message to my clients about changing their lifestyle patterns. But I’ve never said it as concisely as you have! I will be posting this in my waiting room.

Lauren July 19, 2012 at 11:09 am

beautifully stated

Joy July 19, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Beautiful, David. Your style enhances your message…and turns out to be wonderful affirmation as I have triple dog dared myself to create from a specific heart whisper today, and my mind tells me tomorrow might be best…

bettyrunner July 19, 2012 at 1:38 pm

“If doing it today might hurt, then either you open yourself to that pain or you decide it’s not something you’re prepared to do at all.”
That’s it. You’ve nailed it in one sentence. My life is never going to be the same again!

Dave Spurlock July 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm

This is perhaps the single most insightful and useful advice on writing (and really doing anything) I have read in a long time. Thanks!

Josh Lipovetsky July 19, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Thank you so much or this post, David.

Steph in Berkeley July 19, 2012 at 5:26 pm

I couldn’t help but laugh. This was fun. True. Non-threatening. And just plain funny. Thanks ;)

Nitya July 19, 2012 at 8:13 pm

My particular area of procrastination is exercise. I have to exercise everyday, but as I’m of a more sedentary disposition, I put it off and put it off until there is absolutely no escape. I always feel really good when I do it straight away, though nonetheless, the next day I’m beset by the very same procrastinating behaviour.
Obviously you have changed your troubling behaviour, hence the second article in a week! Good for us, anyway, as we look forward to your take on the minutiae of daily life.

michael platania July 19, 2012 at 8:41 pm

I have to write every day – it’s the only way I keep writing.

Kimerli Oliver July 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Excellent post, David; will respond more fully tomorrow.

Seriously, I’m the first one to make that joke?

kitschculture July 21, 2012 at 3:03 am

The ironic thing is that the inverse of this exact situation is totally true as well. You have something huge that’s around the corner and you just wish you could be done with: an interview, a big test, etc. You’re ready, but the moment just hasn’t come yet and it kills you. You want it to be in the past.

The issue at hand is the fact that unlike other animals we have the ability to comprehend time and yet unable to deal with the fact that we live in the present. Sometimes we want the present to be the past, sometimes we want the present to be the future, sometimes we want the present to be an alternative version of that present. Being aware of this is a bit of mindfuck, but once you get past this you realize with distinct clarity that you want to be somewhere and usually take steps towards that goal.

P.S. – Why is it so goddamn hard to write original content. I’m not really a writer and struggle with it. I have friends who enjoy it and yet struggle with it. Some of the most prominent writers of the world have struggled with it. There’s something inherently disgusting about having ideas and needing to express them, but knowing that when you try you’ll have to work at each word, sentence, or paragraph for forever to get it right. Or even worse, sit there reediting the piece several times. Knowing that it’s a possibility is offputting enough to want you to do something else first in hopes that tomorrow will be a day where the mood is better suited to getting ideas on paper. Tomorrow is a day when the word will come because today is a day I have to force the idea out. I don’t know about anyone else out, but I want today to be the day that it’s easy to write. The truth is that today is rarely that day…

David July 21, 2012 at 10:14 am

Writing is so hard because the point is to find the best way to say something. The first words that come out are usually going to be all wrong, and this is intrinsically painful to the writer, who has a need to get them right. I figure good writers are good at getting words down freely even as they realize they are the wrong ones.

Tamara Miller July 27, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I am so very thankful that I stumbled upon your blog many months ago during my constant search for “answers.” Every article I’ve read has resonated and spoken to me. I too have successfully managed to avoid anything challenging, and thus growth, for the majority of my life (I’ve clocked in at 41 years) and I feel like I’m finally facing and asking myself all the right questions. But I find it difficult and articulate and express the answers/thoughts. Then I read your words and am instantly rewarded with bouts of clarity and thinking to myself “yes! This is exactly what I was thinking, feeling, sensing, perceiving.” It’s a comforting reminder that I’m not alone in my thoughts. Slowly I am facing fears and seeing them for what they are. Your insight and sharing has made a tremendous difference in my world. I sincerely thank you for your work, it continually inspires me, you are truly a gift. I look forward to reading your writing for as long as it’s out there..I hope that’s a really long time:)

Corey Franklin May 6, 2013 at 7:40 am

What a great article, not many people have written out so well and clearly how to do this. Great work!

Marcela October 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

love love love! Working on this very thing, this very moment! How timely, so glad you didn’t wait until tomorrow!

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