The Green Study is in a state of chaos today. It looks like Santa’s workshop blew up in here. Contrary to the serene space I prefer to work in, I can barely walk through the room without tripping over errant rolls of wrapping paper, empty cardboard boxes, stray unwrapped toys. My desk would be a comfort to a hoarder. I look around and wonder “how did it get this way?”, as if I had nothing to do with it. This is what procrastination looks like and I am the master.
My surroundings, like my state of fitness, tend to be a reflection of what’s going on inside my head. Right now, there are tumbleweeds of anxiety blowing about and building up speed. I am, unfortunately, very comfortable with rescuing the maiden off the train tracks at the very last minute. I’m waiting for the catastrophic thing that I miss, forget, delay that will teach me once and for all not to put things off. So far, it hasn’t happened. I perform well under pressure and have the ability to pull someone off the edge of the cliff right before they lose their grip – movie magic without the popcorn or Dolby surround sound.
From a Freudian perspective, it’s the pesky Pleasure Principle that keeps humans from performing necessary or unpleasant tasks first, while gravitating towards the things that we enjoy doing. I’m not a fan of Freud, but he has a point. Given the choice between reading a book and say, scooping the cats’ litter boxes, using the word “choice” in this context would be generous. The other aspect, and one that plays a role in my work habits, is the desire to function in crisis mode. I am comfortable with high levels of stress and operating while the roof is caving in.
Like many kids where domestic violence was a part of growing up, I was breastfed on anxiety. It’s not a strange place for me to be. As I get older, it has become a lot less tolerable. I got my ducks in a row by creating stability for myself – stable home, relationships and lifestyle. It left this unmet need to operate in crisis mode. I am always calmest in the storm and so often now, I have to create that storm myself.
I’m at the “recognition” phase of the the procrastination problem, trying to stop delaying tactics before I hit crisis mode. One exercise that I do is that I pick the task that I least want to do and get it done. After that, I focus on what must be done. Then I read that book.
Today is one of those days. It will be a rousing day of writing operating manuals, holiday card writing and novel re-writing. This last task is one in theory that I really want to do and one I’ve been putting off repeatedly because there were dishes to be done and thumbs to be twiddled.
My novel from the November National Novel Writing Craze sits on my desk forlornly waiting for attention. I bought new red pens to lavish it with an editor’s touch and two chapters in, one pen is already dead. My procrastination excuse is that I am uninspired and a bit exhausted by the story. Sometimes a delaying tactic can be countered by a little inspiration. So today, I’ll share a few writing resources that inspire me – just in case you need to avoid the litter boxes in your life.
I am always inspired and engaged when reading what Victoria Grefer has to say about writing at Creative Writing with the Crimson League. She focuses on what goes into the process and really has served as a great resource as I’ve gone through writing my first novel. Additional sites that I follow, and am inspired by, include Dave at Find Your Creative Muse, Rebecca at WriteRight, and most recently, theintrinsicwriter. There are so many other great sites out there, but at some point, I actually need to write.