This post comes to you thanks to me sitting down to write a post, but then spending an hour doing all the different things on my computer to avoid writing a post.
What is the deal with procrastination?
I doubt anyone really questions why it exists. You have something you have to do which takes more effort than you’re willing to put in at the moment, so you look around to see if there is anything else you can do, which in some cases might be that you just sit around and absolutely nothing instead.
It makes a lot of sense when you’re procrastinating things that you’d really rather not be doing. I love procrastinating on cleaning the house. I absolutely adore procrastinating on getting out of bed in the morning. And I don’t know if there is anything better than procrastinating on making dinner long enough that you finally have to just order in.
But what about on the things that you actually kinda do want to do, like, for me, writing.
Writers, in general, appear really good at procrastinating. I can’t tell you the number of people who have told me that they’d like to write a book, but just can’t take the time to do it. Whether it’s our hobby or we’re getting paid for it, writers flock to methods for distraction nearly every time they sit down to write. This is why George RR Martin writes on an old PC that isn’t even able to connect to the internet. No distractions allowed!
But, considering how much passion it takes to do any sort of legitimate writing, it really feels more than a little ridiculous that any writer should have this struggle. Writing takes time. A lot of time. If you’re going to write a book, you have to really want to write a book. And if you’re going to complete it, you have to really like the story you’re putting together. You have to believe it is amazing. Writer’s need to be passionate about their craft. Some might even consider it obsessive.
So how is it, then, that they can also be some of the best procrastinators out there?
I haven’t heard Stephen King talk directly about procrastination, but I do know that he has to set a word goal for himself for each day so that he makes sure to get the bare minimum writing done every day.
Stephen King, one of the world’s most prolific authors (no, Patterson doesn’t count because he doesn’t write his own books), has to set a daily quota for himself because, presumably, if he didn’t, he wouldn’t get there.
I’ve long struggled with procrastination for myself and my own writing. And I’ve long struggled with questioning why this is the case. I absolutely love writing. And when I actually manage to have a day where I sit back and just write for hours and hours, I come out of it feeling both exhausted and fulfilled. Yet, one could even consider the decreased output of my past few years as yet another example of how much I procrastinate.
And I think I’ve come up with the reason why, at least for myself.
While writing may be personally fulfilling, it’s not easy to do. Those personal rewards you receive from creating any piece of art simply aren’t as large as having someone else appreciate what you’ve built. And with every single thing I write, I find myself questioning whether or not it’s something people will ever be able to appreciate. Because, deep down, even though I am incredibly proud of the stuff I write and impress myself with it regularly, I just don’t think it’s good enough. I don’t think I’m good enough.
Writing, like any art, is an extension of the artist. And for the art to be rejected or even simply ignored, can cause the artist to feel similarly rejected or ignored. And that’s scary.
Which means I procrastinate, and I suspect that many authors/artists procrastinate, because they are afraid that by putting themselves out there, they will be found wanting.
And that’s a really hard thing to face.
Which means I’m not procrastinating on my writing, I’m procrastinating on finding out if people love me.
I mean, it’s either that or that I’m just too darn tired to be passionate about finishing up this book about an old man holding a revolution in the Northwoods.
One of the two…