I’ve been meaning to write this blog post about procrastination for a while but I keep putting it off. Sorry. Lame joke.
I know a lot of writers joke about choosing to audit the buttons in their spare button tin rather than sitting down to write, but I fear I’m worst than most. I get to my desk, I even sit on the chair in front of it, but then other stuff happens. Emails, online banking, Facebook, pondering whether now is the time to take on Dante’s Divine Comedy (one day…).
It wasn’t until I read the brilliant Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that I realised what was behind this diabolical laziness procrastination. I’ll let Julia tell you, she says it so well:
Do not call procrastination laziness. Call it fear.
Fear is what blocks an artist. The fear of not being good enough. The fear of not finishing. The fear of failure and of success. The fear of beginning at all.
See, I’m not lazy. I’m terrified. And it’s not surprising. All that fear with you for the entire journey – beginning, middle and, if you make it that far, end. Wittering in your ear, are we there yet? How much longer? Do you even know where you’re going? No wonder booking in the window cleaner suddenly takes precedent.
So now that I know it’s fear, what can I do about it? How do I get braver and quash those pesky doubts? If only there were a simple answer (maybe there is, answers on a postcard please…). I think that knowing it’s fear is half the battle. Iris Murdoch famously said that “Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea.” If we strive for perfection from the beginning then not only are we putting an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves, but we are almost certainly going to fail. I’ve written Iris’s quote on a post-it and stuck it to my monitor. I nicked this idea from Ian Rankin, who has this quote above his computer (he said so in an interview – I’ve not been snooping around his house).
I have to confess that this lightbulb moment happened quite a few months ago and It hasn’t stopped me finding a trillion other things to do when I should be writing, but at least I now know why I do it. It means I can have a quiet, encouraging word with myself, do some lunges and reason that what I write may be the wreck of a half-baked, foolhardy idea, but why let that stop me?
Blog post written. Tick. Now I’m off to dust the skirting boards.