Tag Archives: procrastination

There Are No Accidents But So Many Questions

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I am here by accident.  Well, not here on earth…well…actually, since there is an 11 year span between me and my sister I stand corrected on that score…

I am on my blog by accident – today.  I was sitting here thinking of ways I could procrastinate (again).  I’ve already cleaned the bathroom and dyed my hair.  I’ve read the newspaper and played with the cat.  I’ve answered the door (thank you, Fed X!).  Fresh out of ideas, I was in the process (or so I thought) of logging onto Facebook.

My fingers had other ideas.  They know what I should be doing and set about typing WordPress instead of Facebook.

Traitors.

As every writer knows, procrastination is the devil on your shoulder.  The little voice that says, “Hey, wouldn’t you rather motor up the Don Valley Parkway and look at fall foliage?” or, “Hey, wouldn’t you rather scrub the toilet?”  Rationally speaking, the answers to both questions would be no.  The DVP is a pain in the ass and so is the toilet but this is what happens when a writer feels compelled to procrastinate.  Suddenly, inexplicably, there is nothing more important than a bunch of yellow and red maples or the disgusting state of the toilet.

Writers, as stated by many famous ones, are world champion procrastinators.  If procrastinating were an Olympic sport, we’d all be gold medalists.  The smart writers sit placidly in front of their screens and daydream.  The ones with ADD (like me) paint rooms.  Let’s just say partners and spouses can tell that you haven’t been writing all day if the house is a different colour when they get home.

Why do writers procrastinate?  What is it about our genetic/personality/dysfunctional make-up that necessitates avoiding doing the very thing we claim to love so dearly?

I have a theory:  fear.  Every time I sit in front of my screen, I am terrified that no words will come.  This fear is now magnified by the fact that I’m on antidepressants.  I’m cheerful and calm these days but the creativity seems to have dried up like a desert lake.  I break out in a cold sweat just thinking of writing; I walk in a wide arc around the computer.

When push comes to shove and my fingers get moving, I’m usually fine.  If I’m not, I vow to write my “one square inch” and be done with it.  However, it’s really hard not to feel enormously guilty about less-than-stellar efforts or results. Guilt does not always yield creative results.

Worse than procrastination is hard work that doesn’t necessarily yield a tangible product at the end of the day.  By sitting down at the computer for four to six hours, I’m not building anything that you can sit on, I’m not solving the debt crisis in Greece, I’m not finding a cure for cancer.  I’m not earning a dime from that four to six hours of effort.

So, why?  How many writers, day in and day out, ask themselves that very question?  Is it worth the guilt?  The ever-mounting bills?

The other evening, my daughter was discussing what she wants to do when she grows up.  Her (current) career choice is not one that will garner her a huge income, ever.  I blurted out, “If you love what you do, that is the most important thing.”  I caught some looks.  I felt guilt and sadness wash over me.  Is love enough?  What a question.

 

 

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Creature of Habit

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Every morning I indulge in the same procrastination…er, I mean…pre-work routine.  I eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, and read a retinue of newspapers and/or news site headlines.

If there are no interesting headlines, I spend an inordinate amount of time engaging in headache-inducing staring contests with the cat.  Most days though, there are plenty of headlines to pique my interest.  I’ve noticed over time that I am drawn to those of a more sensational nature.

For example, this morning on CNN’s website, I found the following to be (perhaps) worth a second look:

Pastor Dances with Poisonous Snakes (video)

A note about videos – I generally never watch them especially those sent in by what CNN calls iReporters – amateurs who take videos on their cell phones and then send them in to CNN.  I won’t watch the poisonous snake video; I just liked the headline.

Here’s another one:  Lifeguard Fired for Aiding Drowning Man – This is an article that bears reading IF and only IF the headline actually has anything to do with a lifeguard being fired for helping a drowning man – a preposterous notion.  I am constantly amazed at how misleading headlines can be.

Dying Teen to 911: “Grandma Shot Me!” – sadly, this headline speaks for itself.  If I’m feeling morose, I will read on.

LeBron James Balloon Sculpture – I will look at this only if I am really irritable.  How is this news?  It might lead to a nasty email to CNN depending on how energetic I am and how badly I want to delay diving into The Novel.

27 Must-Sees on Earth – I am curious that there are only 27.  I am curious to see if I’ve seen any of them yet.

Cat Litter Linked to Suicides – How can I resist?  How could anyone resist this one?  Even if there weren’t incidences of suicide in my family, I would be curious.  I have a cat.  I am the one who empties her litter box.  Am I doomed?

Can Spanking Cause Mental Illness? (video) – again, a no-brainer.  The first thing that struck me was that it’s a video.  I am from the generation of people who were spanked as children – again, am I doomed?  Must find out…

I usually read several newspapers as well.  I start with our local paper in Toronto where I can read about the heat wave, the increase in violent crime – due to the heat wave (Canadians have very little ability to tolerate excessive heat), our grumpy mayor, and more on the heat wave…bored, I move on to The Globe and Mail which is a more nationally focused publication.

I can read about how people in Quebec are angry, people in Ontario are getting poorer by the second, the Prairies are either too hot or too wet to suit the farmers, Alberta is rolling in money but still complaining about something, and it is raining in Vancouver (it is always raining in Vancouver but somehow it’s still newsworthy).  The Maritimes are feeling left out  of something and as usual, things are rather quiet in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Either that or there are no reporters up there.  Oh, and Canadians are generally disgruntled with their prime minister but are not inclined to do anything about it.

From there, I head across the pond to England and The Telegraph. I don’t know why I chose The Telegraph; quite honestly, it’s a grumpy paper. Or, maybe Britain is just grumpy these days   Photographs indicate that David Cameron needs to eat more fibre and could someone please buy that man some more interesting ties?

I read the Mirror only for their snarky, sometimes extremely witty gossip section, 3 A.M.  Today in the Mirror: What is Cool – Scientists Discover Secret of Coolness.  Presumably, these were the scientists not working in Switzerland at the super collider discovering the Higgs boson.

After finishing this routine of news-gathering and caffeine-ingesting, I sit and stare at my computer screen for a bit, chewing my bottom lip and trying to figure out what else I can do to delay working.  Ah, I haven’t checked Facebook yet today…