A while ago on Twitter, I had a number of exchanges with other artists (mostly writers) about what they’d accomplished during the day. The responses varied. Someone had been working on book two of a romance trilogy. Another had polished a short story they planned to submit for publication. Someone else had a Sci-Fi-horror feature in the works. Someone admitted to not having had a productive day. Procrastination came knocking on the door, which they’d answered and let in that sly-smiling curmudgeon.
What is Procrastination?
What is procrastination? According to the Oxford Dictionary, procrastination is “the action of delaying or postponing something.”[note] Oxford Living Dictionaries, s.v. “procrastination,” accessed May 28, 2019, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/procrastination.[/note] We’ve all been there. Sometimes we put off hard conversations with friends and loved ones about how their actions/words hurt us. Other times, we put off breaking the one bad habit that can change our lives, like quitting smoking, giving up junk food or starting to exercise. Or we put off starting that project — a book, a series of paintings, learning that Bach concerto — because we’re afraid the work won’t be good enough, that we’re not good enough.
There are days when we don’t feel like doing something, like laundry or going to work. But we do the laundry because all of our underwear are dirty (you’re wearing your last clean pair!). We go to work to have money to pay our bills. What other choice do we have? Unless you like wearing dirty, funky underwear or want to risk losing your job.
Procrastination and Artists
As a writer/artist, procrastination is not my friend. It not only throws off my routine, it stalls my work-in-progress. Too long away from a project, and I lose focus and momentum. It’s difficult to get back into it, and getting back up to speed again can feel like starting over.
Sometimes, though, we must take a hard look at what’s driving our procrastination. Why are we really putting off editing that short story? Or finishing that painting? Maybe it’s not procrastination at all. Maybe it’s what Steven Pressfield calls ‘Resistance’: “It’s a repelling force. It’s negative. Its aim is to shove us away distract us, prevent us from doing our work.”[note]Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, Black Irish Entertainment LLC, 2002, p. 7[/note]
Somehow, we need to get past that Resistance. And the best way to do that is to just begin where we are. We need to be gentle with ourselves, not expect perfection all the time. But not to begin, or continue, is the worst of all because it means it’ll take longer to reach the end, to finish what we’ve started.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re trying to do or hoping to do, take one action now that moves you — and your hopes and dreams — forward.
Will you begin now? What action did you take to move your dream forward? Hit Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.