"The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair."(Mary Heaton Vorse)
I was going to begin by apologising for the length of time that has elapsed since I last posted. Then I was going to give a whole list of reasons why this had been the case before promising that I would try to do better etc etc etc. However, in truth, I can't use the excuse that I have been too busy although I certainly have been finding lots of things to do-studying, cleaning (which, incidentally I loathe with a passion), ironing, cooking- in fact anything that I 'should' be doing.
All of this 'busyness' has meant that I have totally neglected my blog and whilst I have felt very guilty for doing so, this has not spurred me on to do anything about it. Until now.
This morning, I woke with a determination to explore the reasons for my procrastination and to find out what I could do to alleviate this annoying habit that I have got into.
I decided to Google the terms writing and procrastination to see if this was normal behaviour for an aspiring wordsmith such as myself and I found that reassuringly all professionals have experienced this at some point in their writing journey
Amongst the plethora of useful (and not so useful) information out there, I came across some amusing but highly appropriate gems like this cartoon by American author and artist Richard Krzemien
And my particular favourite from Calvin and Hobbes,
I also stumbled across some wise and in some cases amusing quotes by authors who had obviously experienced the same issues as I have but who thankfully got through them and gone on to create some amazing pieces of literature.
“If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.”
Rita Mae Brown
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.”
"He who awaits much can expect little."
-Gabriel García Márquez
Amongst the more serious and useful pieces I stumbled across is this very useful handout from the UNC College of Arts and Sciences in North Carolina which says we procrastinate for a number of reasons including fear and perfectionism.
Fear of failure: If you are scared that a particular piece of writing isn’t going to turn out well, then you may avoid working on it in order to avoid feeling the fear.
Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Perfectionists tend to procrastinate because they expect so much of themselves, and they are scared about whether or not they can meet those high standards.The part about perfectionism particularly rings true for me as I have always felt that whatever I do in life,it is not good enough,especially when it refers to projects that are really important to me.
The whole handout is very useful and I have saved it to my "to be read pile "- I am not procrastinating, honest, I just need to finish this post before getting involved in anything else!
As I was writing this,I suddenly remembered that I had a book about this very subject lurking somewhere on my overcrowded bookshelves. So I went hunting and found it -
I vaguely remember buying this a few years ago in an earlier attempt to stop procrastinating and guess what?- I never read it because I was too busy doing other things.
Flicking through it now, I can see that it is full of very useful tips and strategies to help overcome this most irksome of tendencies, like this one on page 9. Ms Lively writes
Challenge the "shoulds", those insidious guilt trips that drain your psychic energy. Don't let other people's expectations govern your life. Examine your own heart and mind to decide what you want to do, find necessary to do or will no longer worry about.
Wise words and ones which I am going to try very hard to take on board in my battle with procrastination.
Writing this post today has been a very useful personal development exercise. The main thing that I have learnt is this-I am proud of my blog and I get a great deal of pleasure out of the whole blogging experience. I am making a promise to myself that I will stop procrastinating by always finding other things that I "should" be doing and just write. if I don't, I will never know what I can achieve.
As the brilliant Dr Wayne Dyer says "Don't die with your music still in you."
I don't intend to. How about you?