The Virtue of Procrastination


In a belated stop on her blog tour with Books on Tour, author of The Trouble in Tune Town, Maura Pierlot, sings the praises of procrastination…

The Trouble in Tune Town came about as a happy accident, the result of productive procrastination.

The book was inspired by our children, who loved to play piano but were never keen to practise. Our most musical child, perhaps not surprisingly, was the most vocal critic, insisting it was all so boooring: the music theory and all those scales, the songs assigned, the repetition of lessons. Every parent I bumped into echoed this experience – music lessons were a chore for many kids and often a source of tension for families.

While waiting for my son at his weekly music lesson five or so years ago, I penned a simple rhyme:

Practice should never be a fight. If you’re having fun then you’re playing all right.

Although I was busy with my YA manuscript and dramatic writing at the time, I couldn’t stop thinking about the rhyme. I imagined a frustrated young performer blaming the uncooperative music notes, soon discovering they have flown off the sheet, leaving Tune Town without any tunes … on the day of the big recital. The story grew from there.

I took my time playing around with the text over a few years, often returning to it when I was deferring other deadlines and commitments (read: procrastinating). I thought the cadence and meter of rhyming text served the story well, only to discover when the story was finally finished that many publishers were not enthused about rhyme generally.

Hybrid publishing soon emerged as the best fit, offering the perfect mix – back-end support when I needed it, but the freedom to help steer the ship, so to speak. I wasn’t interested in self-publishing. I had finally stepped back from our business to focus on my writing, and I didn’t want to get bogged down in marketing, sales and distribution – at least I didn’t want to be the only personal responsible.

Although music features strongly in The Trouble in Tune Town, the story is about trying your best, learning from your mistakes and not giving up. It’s about self-belief, stepping outside your comfort zone and enjoying the process rather than focusing too much on the outcome – a lesson I had to keep reminding myself when writing the book!

I’m still procrastinating – although I prefer to say temporarily delaying. In fact, I’m writing this article now while on a KSP Fellowship in the beautiful Perth hills because I’m stuck on a key scene in my play. I think procrastination, if managed well, can pay huge creativity dividends. It allows the mind to wander, while remaining aware of a looming task or deadline, and encourages innovative thinking. At least that’s what recent studies suggest. Not that I’ve read them – I’ve been too busy procrastinating!

Maura Pierlot

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