“… procrastination is deeply existential, as it raises questions about individual agency and how we want to spend our time as opposed to how we actually do.” (Lieberman, Charlotte. “Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control).” The New York Times, 25 Mar. 2019)
Been there, done that to the point where I’ve lost complete track of what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s the worst when I’m between day jobs and sit at home trying to convince myself things are getting done. When clearly they’re not. “I’m not writing right now because I’m thinking.” Possibly true, but also a great disguise for procrastination.
I don’t wanna do that thing, usually write that thing, because it’s scary in there. Big scary. Even if it’s something no one but me is ever going to see, the inner critic/imposter convinces me I’m better off not even trying.
I mean, it’s not going to be any good right? So why even try? I’ll toddle off to do something completely mundane like filing or website clean up or, heaven forfend, dishes. Yay! I’m cleaning! Boo, I’m still not doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing.
It becomes a spiral. I recognize I’m procrastinating and I feel crappy about it, but I keep finding other things to do. Until, finally I just give in and do the thing. Then I wonder what all the fuss was about.
“Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.” (op cit)
As I become healthier, I look to my emotions first. “This is an interesting reaction to whatever just happened, what’s really going on?” Knowing my emotional state helps get me going.
As I’ve developed in my writing, it’s gotten harder. Many writers talk about this, “the better you get at writing, the harder it gets.” And I often find myself putting off writing something because “ah, man harder?” As far as I can tell, there is no point at which writing gets easier.
This is why it’s important to me to follow my favorite authors on Twitter and Facebook. All of them have published books and work hard on their craft. And all of them, these people which books I’ve paid for and admire from afar, say “This is hard, just shoot me now.”
So it appears I’m in very good company. And that helps me get past the big scary and write. Or at least be willing to face the big scary and write anyway.