The Magical Kingdom of Later

TreeThe 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.

19 thoughts on “The Magical Kingdom of Later

  1. I’ve also been known to procrastinate in an effort to put pressure on myself. I’m a stress junkie because of years of working in advertising. I am going to check out your links. Thanks for posting them.


    1. I really want to do more to promote other blogs, but haven’t done as much lately. I can only imagine what working in advertising does to your need for adrenalin! I always wonder if I could perform better without that pressure, which made me curious as to why I even needed it to be high functioning. Still working that part out – or saving it for later!


  2. Fantastic post, and so easy to identify with! I especially loved when you said “I look around and wonder ‘how did it get this way?’, as if I had nothing to do with it.” That is EXACTLY how I feel – as I hastily assure everyone that “I’m really a very organized person, I’ve just been so busy…”


  3. This post really got me thinking. It’s funny how many of our actions and behaviors are directly related to the environments we grew up in. Like you, I tend to work my best in the storm – but trying to plan in preparation for the storm? Forget about it. Thank you for more inspiration, as always! I just love reading your blog.


    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I have sometimes wondered how successful I’d be if I didn’t procrastinate on so many things. Now that I’m older and tired of second-guessing myself, I am just trying to make life a little less stressful by not waiting until catastrophe strikes to get things done.


  4. Great post – I think you nailed it – raised on anxiety. I have always sought out organization to feed my own need for comfort – professionally. In my personal life, it’s another matter entirely. I get it all done, but usually at the last minute. My novel is sitting there waiting for more attention – but I’ll get back to it, I need to set a goal to focus – maybe February:)


    1. I would get really frustrated with myself, not understanding why I continued to operate that way, but I have a better handle on it now. My goal is to have a novel draft ready by the end of March. Three long winter months to re-write and edit!


      1. That sounds like a good plan. I do so well when I have a goal. Writing for a month, even though I was carrying a huge work load worked, because I could organize myself and get it done. The lack of a deadline has stalled me.


  5. I can’t wait til you breathe a long and relaxing sigh of relief. I love when you do that it’s so relaxing and affirming and soothing. 🙂 Hurry up and DO IT! hah j/k Sounds like you’re very productive and the endorphins are shooting!


  6. “There are so many other great sites out there, but at some point, I actually need to write.”
    And so, I say, “Write on.”


  7. I always thought I ruled the procrastination kingdom. I am King I proclaim. I am slowly learning I am just another pawn of the kingdom. I am glad I am not alone but I am still waiting for that lesson in slaying this dragon. Ugh! Help me Sir Knight!
    Oh by the way, Captain Chaos is my friend.


  8. Grace under pressure is an acquired skill and, in my opinion, one of the accidental perks of being a procrastinator (which I am as well). As you say, you have to have rescued a few maidens in your time to be the person not freaking out when the next train comes. 🙂


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