Fix 10: Procrastination Station

Ahhhh, Procrastination. I may very well be the Queen of this. I love putting things off to the very last minute, often to my detriment, and then having everything due all at once.  If you do follow this blog you may have realized that after saying I’d post 3 times a week I haven’t posted at all in about… what? 3 weeks. My excuse is that I was in England and suddenly it occurred to me that I had only a few weeks left to see shows, travel, and get all my papers done. In other words, my real life became more important than 4 page essays on writing.

 

I had another blog before, but I don’t update it anymore simply because I got so far behind that I just gave up. I decided that in this case instead of trying to catch up that I’d just go on break until I could find the time. See, I know a lot about procrastination; in fact procrastination seems to be really important to my writing in that it either stops it completely or makes it kick into over drive.

 

I’m going to say right now that this isn’t so much a Mary-Sue fix as general thing to lookout for. For instance, in the last week before grades were due I wrote five one-shot fanfictions. I wrote over 20,000 words outside of the papers I had to do in one weekend. I did some good work, and met interesting people, and had some great exercise. That being said all of this happened because I was putting off doing real work for my real classes.

 

Right now I have two documents sitting open. One is the half-finished first chapter of a fanfiction that I would have been long finished with if I’d started working on it a week ago (no, really). The other is a short fanfiction/writing experiment that isn’t supposed to be very long but will get me warmed up to write a 7-8 chapter fanfiction I’ve been planning for about three weeks.

 

All of these fanfictions are a type of procrastinations against two larger (and much more popular) fanfics that I’ve been working on for a couple of months. Those are in reaction to editing a book I’m trying to get published… because, you know, I have a crippling fear of success.

 

I really wish I was joking. What I’ve noticed is that a lot of people have a fear of success. They’re afraid of doing good work, or don’t believe that they are worth the effort to do good work. Doing almost no work at all I skated out of school in the top 10%, won nearly four full years worth of tuition to a top university, all while being white at the time.  The people who got the top spots in the grade worked very hard to get where they got. Not that I didn’t work (because I did, but a lot of procrastination and only half my effort went into a lot of it), but I realize how much I was able to achieve when I never really applied myself to my work. Truthfully, anything that I’ve had to really work at (playing music, languages) I never really apply myself to. The story goes that music majors aren’t the ones who are the best musicians. The best musicians drop out on the first year once they figure out that they can’t just skate by like they always have before, that they actually have to work.

 

I’ve heard this story maybe twenty or more times, and it’s part of why I knew that I’d have to be tough going into studying writing.  It’s why I didn’t just drop out half way through the world’s most frustrating Creative Writing Class (or as I know it: the class that became the one I was only there for because I had to finish it to be able to finish my degree.) It’s why I practice all the time with writing (even if it is just roleplaying or fanfiction). It’s why I wrote for my school’s newspaper even though I plan to go into fiction. I need the practice. I need the work. I have ten years of constant writing experience and it’s not enough.

 

I’m not afraid of hard work. I’m afraid of success. If it weren’t true then I wouldn’t have spent a week writing fanfiction instead of writing about Shakespeare. If it weren’t true then I’d have actually finished editing my two year old manuscript, or gotten further in any of my current novel projects. I’m really afraid of doing well. It’s scary when people expect things of you. Thankfully I’m not happy with settling for less than writing good books that make money, but that goal is far enough away off that I feel justified in not working right now.

 

Procrastination is simply the fear of success, and it snowballs. Here’s my personal tonight example. I’m very tired and thought I had to get up early tomorrow. Before I could sleep I had to 1)start packing to go back to school 2) finish writing a resume 3) take a shower (or have to get up earlier to do so). It all sorted itself out, but I only got done what I absolutely had to, and thankfully I don’t have to be up anywhere near early.  But if it hadn’t worked out I would have continued to sit around playing solitaire, not writing, not packing, not enjoying myself. Procrastination has never made me really happy. When I procrastinate often times I won’t write things I want to write, or things I don’t. I’ll just sit around and stress about things not getting done, which is kind of horrifying.

 

Honestly, I can’t really tell you how to fix procrastination except to exercise self control, think of the things you have to get done as important and that you’re important enough that your work on them matters, and to use your procrastination when all else fails. Honestly I got all kinds of things written because of it. Also, if you do procrastinated don’t vow to go back and do the things you haven’t. Let the past go. It’s already past.

 

So, I’ll try to get back to writing more, and see what I can’t get done.

 

Bye everybody!

Published in: on August 17, 2011 at 3:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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