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.

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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.