As a writer, procrastination can impede my ability to develop story ideas into completed works. In order to avoid procrastination, I must first understand exactly what procrastination is.
What is procrastination? It is the delaying, or the putting off, of tasking on a (sometimes urgent) situation. Usually, this is the delaying of completing a less desirable task, and replacing the action with a more pleasurable one. The more fun task supersedes, or takes precedence, over what is really more important at the time.
I think the human mind can misinterpret and falsely label what it believes to be procrastination. Could procrastination really be anxiety I feel towards an event, a project, or a chore? If I am experiencing anxiety, then it’s applicable that I’m also experiencing some sort of fear. If I’m feeling fearful regarding the tasking in which is being procrastinated against, then I’m also apprehensive towards the outcome of that task. What could the outcome be that I fear, or am apprehensive about?
I think if the act of foreshadowing an outcome is short lived, then this is not procrastination. This is normal, rational behavior. This is merely conducting a brief, risk management assessment in the mind. An average person weighs out the pros and cons involved in the task. Most tasks are simple, minor chores that require very little analytic processes to complete. A person faced with simple tasking, quickly deciphers what the mind projects as the most likely outcome. An example of this would be: a) wash the dishes (yay, the dishes are clean), or (b) don’t wash the dishes (yay, the dishes are dirty so I’ll order out). Quick and easy, the person is no longer apprehensive or anxious towards the task at hand. This person moves forward without any more delay. If the task has some probable, dubious outcomes, then the person will reflect on it for a period of time. This person may or may not end up going through with it. While the person is thinking about the perceived unpleasant task, he/she chooses to keep busy with something easier, or more fun, to do. This time spent is probably procrastination.
If this person were me, then my mind would run wild. I would not only project all the most likely outcomes, I would also interject a variety of unlikely, fictitious outcomes in my mind’s eye. Here is where I often run into trouble. I dwell and then I’ll dwell some more. Just for kicks and giggles, I’ll go for the trifecta and hash out more of the same ole’ dwellings. If I’m having a really good day, I could imagine a piece of blazing hot metal crashing into some guy’s driveway seconds before he’s going to comment on my post. His mood sours (as did his vehement words to me in comments). I guess I’d be pissed off too if a chunk of Sputnik came crashing down from the heavens, pancaking the Papa John’s delivery car that just pulled up to my house. Isn’t this long and drawn out foreshadowing of future outcomes really the act of procrastinating?
In Charlie’s world, the imaging which occurs at this stage of the delay is extremely dangerous territory to reside in! For me, writing is usually pleasurable. Like all writers, I have my periods of struggles when writing; can’t find the right wording, ideas leading to dead ends, or fumbling for the right paragraph to be sandwiched between two good ones. Overall, I have a lot of fun recalling the funnier side of my life’s experiences and assembling them into even more colorful stories. I pray my readers will enjoy and experience a few laughs of their own. It’s possible that I can have anxiety towards how my readers perceive my story. If my readers like it, then that’s great. If readers don’t like it, then that’s okay also. Just remember, my gargoyles know where you hide your chocolate!
Regardless of what reactions I think people will feel, good or bad, I need to avoid all those hindrances that lead me to procrastinate. I need to write.
For example, I started this blog post on July 7th. I spent the majority of the afternoon deciding on the most appropriate title for my new article.
Titles are important for writers. They need to be perfect and grab the attention of potential readers. I bet I accumulated 20 different variations for titling this post, but the precise wording escaped me. (FYI, this is the same untitled, unwritten post that the guy who hasn’t read it yet, but will read and comment on how much he likes it when I do get it completed; has a situation where an errant hunk of Sputnik pummels down from the sky and crushes his delivery dinner. So now, I’m the fall guy and get trashed in comments.
Charlie, STOP! Wait a minute. First, I need to write my trashable post.
As soon I came up with what I originally thought was a great header, thoughts on how that title would be perceived started to haunt me. I discarded it and pondered on new wording. Over and over again, this process continued throughout the afternoon. I felt sick to my stomach because I was unable to come up with the perfect “eye-catching” header.
All this anxiety was making me hungry. I didn’t have much food here, or not the right foods I needed. A writer is an artist. I needed the right combinations of nutrition from the foods I eat in order to write effectively. Certainly, I didn’t have mind stimulating “title foods” in the house. If I had, then I would have devoured the grub and my catchy headline would have been written. Then I could have carried forward with creating my interesting blog post.
Out to the market, I went.
The market where I buy my inspirational foods is fabulous. After entering the store, off to the left there is a wonderful selection of quick and easy carry out food stations. This was such an exciting moment for me. It was time to refuel. Here is where I always purchase snacks to munch on while I shop for my brain foods. I picked up a few items and set them in the basket at the back of my cart, perfect for the average bachelor’s casual shopping experience. My luck didn’t stop here. Oh no!
With one hand, I pushed my cart towards the fresh produce area. The other hand joyfully teased my palate with a 12” sub sandwich. I could already detect my brain wheels were being greased for a delightful, free-spinning free fall towards my inspiration.
Produce baby! I was there and in the presence of delicious apples, delectable orangutans, and juicy tangerines. I saw brightly colored roots and many other oddly shaped plants that had grossly morphed from the ground. There were also a slew of disgusting green colored foods, but I still eat some of them. I’m an artist, and I need to eat those foods that insects crawl upon. I chose what I needed and moved on.
All the pieces started to fall into place. I weaved from aisle to aisle, loading my cart with all the foods a writer needed to record a good post. I was right with the world, and it was finally being right by me. By the time that night was over, I was certain that I’d have that ever so elusive headline I’d been searching for. Then, I would have been able to write my post.
Sandwich consumed, groceries paid for and bagged, I moseyed forward to the carryout area. My blog title still elusive, I picked up a big slice of pizza for my seven minute drive home. Again my mind seemed to be charging with hints of brilliant wording that ebbed and flowed in my head, but nothing stuck…except the piping hot cheese to the roof of my mouth. I demolished my zah in pain and dreamt during the drive home.
Six weeks later, the stock price of my local grocery chain skyrocketed, but no writing genius surfaced on my paper. The post I was going to write is no longer an idea coming to fruition. Instead, I chose to do this post; an article about the delays that occur when one attempts to write an enjoyable blog post that never blossoms.
Now that I have all the right foods an artist needs to create good work, my procrastination has waned. LOL.