What is our beloved Jasper Fforde doing writing all these emails to you and spending so much time reading our entries when he should have his nose to the grindstone on his next book?  Doesn’t he know that it takes us less time to read them than he does to write them?  Sometimes I wish I was born in the next generation, so I wouldn’t have to wait for the publication dates.  Very inconsiderate, I do think.I think what we have here is a little case of writer’s block.  Fantasies of cruises? Requests for more entries?  I think we’re looking at the P-word here.

Yes, it’s Procrastination.  And you’re in luck, because I have done some study into this phenomenon, and have even been a sufferer myself.

Procrastination is a terrible disease that afflicts some of the best writers of all times.  At first, it tends to manifests itself in spending time doing other useful things.  I personally experience cooking and cleaning my house as my personal Procrastination symptoms.  However, if it is a serious case, Procrastination starts to express non-useful symptoms, causing otherwise healthy sufferers to spend time reading horoscopes on the Internet, writing emails to anyone and everyone, and even the ‘SIS’ effect (also known as Staring into Space).  In severe cases, patients become obsessive in trying to fill every minute of their day doing anything except addressing the job at hand.  My parents and friends know that I’m not well if they come over and my house is clean and there is bread in the oven.  They’re relieved when they come over to a shambles and an M&S pre-prepared dinner.

Unfortunately, modern medicine has not yet recognised Procrastination as a diagnosable illness.  I expect it will be a few generations before this terrible affliction is given the recognition it requires.  This means that there are no drugs available to treat the problem, yet.

So, what can you do about it?  Well, personally I would be gentle with Mr Fforde.  He is an artist, you know.  But, we’re all aware that he has a sense of humour (if also an unhealthy fear of toast), so I think you should do the following.

1. Raise the possibility that he may be suffering from Procrastination, and reiterate that he is not alone, or in any way defective.

2. Suggest, gently, that he should focus on the task at hand and keep writing his next book.

3. Provide constant support, and even a cheer squad if necessary, to affirm positive behaviour (ie. writing).

If that doesn’t work, it could be that the problem has been diagnosed too late.  And then all we can do it hope and wait.


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