I have learned that part of every writing project I take on is the feeling, usually on the day it is due or the days leading up to it, that I have bitten off more than I can chew.

Right now I’m struggling with my two-book review for the Post, due today, of course. Part of the challenge is condensing two 400-page books into 600 words. The right words. At the right time.

Well, it’s intimidating. And in some ways, it’s more difficult when you have a choice of media to use. To compose on the computer, or to work it out the hard way on a yellow legal pad, scratching and deleting and moving as I go? Almost always it ends up being a combination of approaches, including thinking about it distractedly as I stare into space while driving around town, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, or running.

I’ve often said that procrastination is a critical part of the writing process, or any creative process–because you aren’t really procrastinating, you’re working it out in your head. Then when it comes time to actually do it, a lot of the thinking has already been done.

So what it comes down to at the end is discipline. Forcing yourself to make the time and finally do it, because it the end, at should be transcription as much as creation–taking what you’ve already created in your brain and making it a physical thing.

So … back to work.