Miranda July Teaches You How to Avoid Procrastination

I’ve always thought of writer, actor and film­mak­er Miran­da July as some­one who cre­ates her own oppor­tu­ni­ties. Long before her sto­ries in The New York­er, and before Me and You and Every­one We Know, the award-win­ning first fea­ture that cement­ed her indie dar­ling sta­tus, she was cir­cu­lat­ing video chain let­ters fea­tur­ing her own work and that of oth­er young, female film­mak­ers. She record­ed LPs and toured orig­i­nal per­for­mance art pieces.

What a relief to find out she’s a pro­cras­ti­na­tor, too.

July insists that her chat­ter­ing mon­key mind near­ly deprived her of the con­cen­tra­tion nec­es­sary to fin­ish writ­ing The Future, her sec­ond full-length film. One of its most com­pelling parts actu­al­ly wound up on the cut­ting room floor. In it (above), we see Sophie, the under-employed would-be dancer played by July, com­ing to grips with her own self-sab­o­tag­ing ten­den­cy toward pro­cras­ti­na­tion.

Of course, the rea­son we’re able to see it at all is that July, whose indus­tri­ous­ness sure­ly has earned her the right to spend a decade or so doing noth­ing but watch­ing YouTube and Googling her own name, repur­posed it as a short, instruc­tion­al film (A Handy Tip for the Eas­i­ly Dis­tract­ed), which offers an anti­dote for those of us who share her afflic­tion.

(Admit it. You’re pro­cras­ti­nat­ing now, aren’t you?)

In addi­tion to the sound­ness of her advice, her method­ol­o­gy is endear­ing­ly low-tech. As one who’s been known to attribute a lack of cre­ative out­put to a less than ide­al work­space, I found the clut­tered, shab­by apart­ment set both famil­iar and gal­va­niz­ing. If we’re going to make excus­es, we may as well own them. July takes yet anoth­er step by har­ness­ing them and forc­ing them to work for her.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Life-Affirm­ing Talks by Cul­tur­al Mav­er­icks (Includ­ing Miran­da July) Pre­sent­ed at The School of Life

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of any num­ber of books includ­ing The Zinester’s Guide to NYC and No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Late.

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.