The Procrastisnake lurks in the corner of my room. In the best of times, it stays curled up, hibernating. The best of times, of course, don’t happen often.

Anytime I have doubt or fear about what I am trying to do, it opens an eye, scenting food in the air. The Procrastisnake lives in the potential realm, and so it can only live on potential words, those left unwritten. And so when it finds me trying to find inspiration, it slithers over the keyboard. It curls itself around me and whispers in my ear. Well you don’t have to do it now… it’s too late to get anything real done… why not just check your email before you start…?

…and before I know it, a couple of hours have lapsed and the page remains blank. The words I wanted to write are left unwritten. So the snake feasts. I’ve been feeding the Procrastisnake many times over the past few weeks, months, and years.

But I have found the snake moves in curves. It doesn’t like straight lines. It hates clear boundaries and routines. It abhors structure. So that’s exactly what I’ve been building in my life. Of course, all structures have their cracks, and the best laid plans can be slithered through and left in the potential time.

The Procrastisnake also has a tendency to lurk in the dark. When I speak of my plans to others, or even write them down, it shrinks away into the corner and leaves me alone.

It’s best to try preventative measures, because if the creature is close enough for you to hear, it becomes very difficult to ignore. You can’t hear much over the hissing, and it can pull very hard when it wants to. It can be resisted, but just using sheer effort often fails. Far better to build rules, systems, accountability and deadlines. Even if these things do not keep it away entirely, they can muffle the whispers.

I don’t think there is a way to keep it out forever, nor is there a way to kill it. It is too long and too tangled up in the words I’ve already written. It is made up of parts of me—my insecurities, my self-criticism, my laziness. If it died, part of me would die as well. So I toss it some scraps every now and then, and draw lines to keep it out, and keep writing.