Procrastination and Percolation by Heather Bruce
Procrastination, procrastination, procrastination…
I know the word has negative connotations—its synonyms include “dally,” “put off,” “drag your feet,” and “dawdle.” Most people think only lazy and inept people procrastinate. I herald procrastination when I face a writing task of any import. Procrastination is my sacred approach.
Procrastination offers time for pondering the task. It provides time to think about what I want to write while I am walking the hills north of my home, while I am staring at the ceiling on sleepless nights, while I am bored to tears in compulsory meetings, while I am reading everything that needs to be read before thinking and writing about what calls to be said on the subject at hand. Procrastination gives me time for percolation.
The processes of percolation offer food for thought when applied to writing. Percolation is filtering substance gradually through a porous surface or spreading information, an idea or feeling gradually through an area or group of people. Filter. Filtrate. Strain. Infiltrate. Seep. Ooze. Slow going and penetrating, my ideas ooze from messy concentration into clarity of words. Words tumble into sentences. Sentences morph into theoretical frames. Theoretical frames call upon warrants. Warrants ground claims. Claims build arguments. Arguments wrap into poetry. All as a result of taking time to let the ideas bubble up and float toward the ether.
In his touchstone essay, “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love,” a meditation, Jim Corder writes that we must pile time into argumentative discourse, rescue time by putting it into our discourses and holding it there. He qualifies that the world, of course, does not want time in its discourses preferring speed, efficiency and economy of motion, especially as we are devoured during the economy of a semester. Writing that matters—writing that reaches towards understanding and empathy—teaches the world to want otherwise. It teaches us to want time in our discourses for care (189).
As someone who writes primarily about justice, about what I think it is and isn’t, I need the space and time to allow for care—to detail a world “full of space and time that will hold our diversities” (Corder 189). And so I procrastinate and allow time for percolation, to reach for the kind of writing that shows I have cared and shows others how to care as well.
Heather E. Bruce is a Professor of English Teaching and the Director of the Montana Writing Project.
Corder, Jim W. “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love.” Pursuing the Personal in Scholarship, Teaching, and Writing: Selected Essays of Jim W. Corder. James S. Baumlin & Keith D. Miller, Eds. Urbana, IL: NCTE, 2004 (170-189).