The Art and Craft of Wasting Time in 20 Quotes

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Writers are notorious procrastinators, and the trend is not limited to hobbyists or young, aspiring authors. We talk a lot about procrastination indirectly—setting personal deadlines, how to schedule writing time around life and family, how to write a draft—and fast!, how to write an outline for anything.

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We also discuss wasting time rather frankly in our forum, and occasionally offer assistance to writers who don't want to work, necessarily, but in a productive way. Sometimes we give direct examples of how to not procrastinate.

Famous time-wasters tend to fall into two camps: There's the hedonistic band of enthusiastic lollygaggers, and there's the anti-dillydallying brigade of outputters. The logic follows that non-famous writers follow the same pattern. For both sides, here are some thoughts and advice from the greats on the art and craft of wasting time—or not.

Pro-Procrastination

Mark Twain: “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

Marthe Troly-Curtain: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

Rita Mae Brown: “If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.”

Herodotus: “Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal, while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.”

Douglas Adams: “I love deadlines. Especially the whooshing sound they make as they pass by.”

Ellen Degeneres: “Procrastination isn’t the problem. It’s the solution. It’s the universe’s way of saying stop, slow down, you move too fast."

Dorothy Parker: "Live, drink, be merry, love the reeling midnight through, For tomorrow ye may die, but alas we never do."

Jerome K. Jerome: "Why, some of the work that I have by me now has been in my possession for years and years, and there isn't a finger-mark on it. I take great pride in my work; I take it down now and then and dust it. No man keeps his work in a better state of preservation than I do."

Susan Orlean: I think of myself as something of a connoisseur of procrastination, creative and dogged in my approach to not getting things done."

Auguste Rodin: "Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely."

The Writer’s Digest Retreat on the Water is your chance to escape the demands of everyday life and immerse yourself in your craft for a few purposeful and peaceful days. Enrollment at this Retreat is limited—you’ll enjoy the close mentorship of the instructors and the attention to your individual manuscript that only an event this small and exclusive can provide.

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Pro-Productivity

Pablo Picasso: “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”

Benjamin Franklin: “You may delay, but time will not.”

Charles Dickens: “Procrastination is the thief of time; collar him.”

Abraham Lincoln: “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”

George Bernard Shaw: “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you'll find you've done it.”

Oscar Wilde: “Hesitation of any kind is a sign of mental decay in the young, of physical weakness in the old.”

Victor Hugo: “Short as life is, we make it still shorter by the careless waste of time.”

J.R.R. Tolkien: “It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to finish.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.: "How soon 'not now' become 'never.'”

Henry Ford: "It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste."

Which camp do you fall into? For myself, I'll only say that this post was supposed to run yesterday.

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Adrienne Crezo is the managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine. Follow her on Twitter @a_crezo.

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