Posts Tagged ‘procrastination’

Yesterday a colleague who has been taking a work-related class told me he finally sent in his latest paper. He said that he had kept taking it home, intending to work on it, but just couldn’t. Finally, on the day it was due, he came to work early and wrote the dang thing.

He said, “I always leave this stuff till the last minute. I work better under pressure.”

I said, “There’s a song for you. It’s called ‘A Book Report on Peter Rabbit,’ and it’s from the musical You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

And I went on YouTube and found the song for him. It’s sort of a fugue involving Lucy, Linus, Schroeder, and Charlie Brown. They each have their own way of approaching the task of writing a book report, and I think the four styles pretty much cover the different ways each of us approaches work.

Are you more like Lucy, counting up the words in order to do the bare minimum? More psychologically analytical like Linus? Wildly imaginative like Schroeder, who would rather be writing about Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham?

My friend identifies with Charlie Brown, who sings that there is no point in getting started when he’s “not really rested,” that he works “better under pressure.”

I suspect I’m closest to Linus. Who are you?

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Lots of creative people need a little push to just sit down and do it.

If I recall writer Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird correctly, she says that in addition to writing a little every day and embracing terrible first drafts, the most important thing is a group of other creative types with whom you meet on a regular basis to say what you have done since last time.

So it doesn’t surprise me that there are popular musicians who are grateful to be allowed into a songwriting challenge called “The Song Game.”

Acacia Squires wrote about it for National Public Radio: “Bob Schneider finished writing ‘The Effect,’ a song from his latest album, Burden of Proof, in just a few days. That’s how he does it: For 12 years, the Texas musician has beaten back the urge to procrastinate by writing a song once a week, every week. It began casually, just him and a friend sharing their songs with one another. …

“Now it’s grown into an Internet-based, deadline-driven songwriting motivation strategy which Schneider calls ‘The Song Game.’ It’s a game without winners or losers — just productivity. He’s filled five studio albums with songs from the game since 2001, and says he still needs it all these years later.

” ‘There’s the critical voice inside your head and it stops people from writing,’ he says. ‘I try to eliminate that voice by saying, “Look, I’m gonna write a song. I’m gonna try to make it interesting.” ‘ …

“One of the ground rules of the game: fail to submit a song every week, and Schneider will cut you from the invite-only email list. And here’s another rule: the phrase. To keep songwriters from working ahead, he sends a short phrase to the group that has to be in the next week’s song.”

Read more here and see what well-known songs started out with the word of the week from Schneider.

Photo: Chris Miller
Singer and songwriter Bob Schneider, founder of “The Song Game”

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