How Tony Kushner responds to procrastination.

Pulitzer Prize winning American playwright and screenwriter Tony Kushner granted a 2011 interview for the Paris Review, in which he discussed The Art of Theater. He splices open the potentially generic territory of such a well-trodden subject with characteristic precision and nuance. While the full interview is well worth the read, he answers the question “Have you developed techniques for dealing with procrastination?” with notable acuity…

“The lesson I learn over and over again – and then forget over and over again – is that writing won’t be so bad once you get into it. One’s reluctance is immensely powerful. It’s like what Proust says about habit – it seems tiny in the grand arc of a person’s life narrative, but it’s the most insidious, powerful thing. Reluctance is like that.

When you feel most terrified – I think this is true of most writers – it’s because the thing isn’t there in your head. I’ve found it to be the case that you’ve got to start writing, and writing almost anything. Because writing is not simply an intellectual act. It doesn’t happen exclusively in your head. It’s a combination of idea and action, what Marx and Freud called praxis, a combining of the material and the immaterial. The action, the physical act of putting things down on paper, changes and produces a writer’s ideas.”

[the Paris Review, No. 201]