Hello, hello! It’s been a slow couple of weeks writing-wise. I’ve been re-reading Garnets and Guardians in preparation for another round of edits (it really shouldn’t have taken me two weeks to get through it, but I was lazy and not so productively procrastinating). At the same time, Dad was doing a deep clean of the house and, when it came down to the last room or so, he started doing everything except cleaning what he said he was going to (he did the laundry, ran errands, put knobs and pulls on some cabinets and drawers, etc.). When I picked on him for procrastinating, he denied it because he was doing things that needed to be done. That’s exactly what productive procrastination is: doing things that need to be done eventually instead of what you’re supposed to be doing. Apparently we all do it, not just writers. I felt much better about myself when I realized that.
I know writers who clean their house or run errands or answer emails when they’re supposed to be writing. I tidy up my computer files when I’m desperate to avoid writing. I also volunteer to read for people when I’m looking for a break. There are all kinds of ways to avoid what you’re supposed to be doing when you have other stuff to focus on. I know some people who keep busy by working on a short story or two instead of the novel they’re in the middle of writing. I’m supposed to start edits on G&G today, but I might just write a ten minute play instead. Sometimes, the brain insists you do something else. That’s okay.
Productive procrastination plays two important roles in life. First, it gives you a well-deserved break while keeping you from feeling guilty for not doing something that needs to be done. Sitting around and binge watching Netflix instead of writing feels like a no-no, but fold the laundry while you’re doing it and suddenly it’s not so bad. And second, it gives us the motivation to do all the little things no one really wants to do. I didn’t really want to do my checkbook the other day, but I didn’t want to read G&G again even more, so guess which one got done first. It forces us to prioritize things.
Eventually, you’ll run out of things that are less painful than whatever you’re supposed to be doing, or you’ll realize you have a deadline looming, and you’ll suck it up and do the thing. If not, then whatever it was wasn’t that important to you in the first place. As long as you’re getting something done, take it as a win. Yeah, I feel guilty when I don’t get my writing or edits or whatever done, but as long as I did something important in its place, I’m happy. Every task completed during procrastination is one less thing you have to worry about the next day. Enjoy it.
Are you a productive procrastinator? How do you decide when enough is enough and you should do the thing you’re supposed to do? Is there a method to your procrastination or do you simply do whatever pops to mind first? Feel free to share your words of advice with us.
See you next week!