Thursday, November 12, 2009

Procrastination Justification (Can It Actually Lead To Innovation?)

Let me start by throwing it out there that I am a world class procrastinator.  Believe me - if there's anything that can keep me from my task at hand, I can find it and use it to my procrastination advantage.  Even when it comes to tasks that I love to do... For instance, writing.  (Let's pause for a moment for the shock heard 'round the world - who ever would have thought I'd choose writing as my example?)

I was on a mayjah procrastination kick last week.  I got sick, but when I got better a day later, I avoided writing.  And on the next day.  And the next day.  And the next.  Now, I'm a believer in taking a day off here and there - to let that reservoir of creative juices refill when it's been overworked.  Even two days, maybe three.  But more than that (for me it was an entire week) is just plain old procrastination.

I wanted to write, I really did.  I love this job.  But I let myself find distraction in every. single. thing. possible.  A lot of it was writing related, but we all know it's not the same as actually facing the manuscript and giving those fingers a workout on the keyboard.

This past Monday, I finally forced myself out of the hazy procrastination fog.  After much whining about how much I procrastinated (just another procrastination method, no?) I opened Project Jane and click by painful clack I typed a new paragraph.  And then another, followed by a new page, and so on and so forth.  I found my stride again, though it was a slow start.  (I finally passed the 70,000 word mark - yay me!)  By the time I finished typing that night, the last dregs of laziness had flown from my knuckles.  I was in writing heaven.  At one point I'd even, mid-sentence, come up with a completely new and awesome angle.  I call that super duper writing heaven. 

Then a strange thought struck me.

I loved what I'd written.  Yet, I couldn't help but feel that had I attempted to write even a day earlier, I never would have written the way I had.  The words would have been shaped differently; the flow would have been set to a different frequency.  And most startling of all was the realization that I might never have developed the new twist. 


Maybe sometimes procrastination is a good thing.  Perhaps my lazy tendencies will actually pay off in the world of writing first drafts.  Looking back, I realize that I might have produced a completely different story had I never procrastinated the way I have.  Would I have liked it? Probably.  Could it actually have been better? Possibly.  But do I love, love, love the story I've written up to this point? Absolutely.

So, while I still strive to complete this draft without any further procrastinating - I no longer feel guilty about the time I've already spent doing just that.

(Of course a necessary caveat here is that this could certainly all be a severely imaginative rationalization on my part - a subconscious effort to allow myself to think that procrastination is okay... So take my words in at your own peril, haha.)

♥ me


  1. I love this: "Perhaps my lazy tendencies will actually pay off...." Man, I used to tell my mom that all the time.

    But I totally get what you're saying. I do everything I can before settling in to tax my brain, as much as I love to write. Because, even though it's fun and creative and rewarding, it's still work, right? Which is why I always do Facebook, twitter, blog-checking, e-mail, twitter again, e-mail yet again, then maybe twitter once more...well, eventually the writing comes. And I think you're right: it comes when your mind is ready for it, and maybe it's all for the better.

  2. I totally agree! If I'm having one of those days where the writing just isn't calling to me, I don't push it. Because I never like what I've written if it's forced. And sometimes not being able to move forward with a scene is a signal to me that something about the scene is off, or that I'm going in the wrong direction.

    Could it be rationalization? Yes, it could. I'm okay with that. :)

  3. Maybe you wouldn't have found that new twist immediately, but your brain's a pretty cool thing. You might have found the same twist during revisions, or during another day's writing. You never know when ideas will hit (they always get me at inconvenient times, when I don't have pen or paper handy).

    Or maybe your procrastination was just a good way to recharge. Yay for 20/20 (selective) hindsight!

  4. It's so funny because today on two other blogs I've definitely written comments that COMPLETELY contradict what I posted about today... So I take it all back ;-) Procrastination is not good! I'm a liar. If you write with the goal of publication - you should write even when you don't feel like it! (I still think a few days off here or there is appropriate for the recharging.)

    Okay, I still think a little procrastination could be a good thing at times, so I don't take it all the way back. But I see both ways...

    Simon - you're right about brains, they are so interesting!

  5. Procrastination is a very good friend of mine. However, just recently I have had to escort him forcefully out the door. I miss him already!

    As for time away from your MS. I think it's a good thing. Gives the brain time to recharge so it can evoke new twists and turns hidden deep in our gray matter :)

  6. LOL-I agree you need to take breaks. Last week I hit a wall because I'd been going going going and ended up having a teeny tiny melt down (not a big one, just you know, five minutes of sitting on the kitchen floor crying while my cats stared at me like, "I thought you were going to feed us.") Lesson learned: take breaks. Not too long of breaks, but you still need to give yourself one sometimes. Which is why I requested tomorrow off work--so I can procrastinate on THAT job instead of my writing. :)

  7. I've had a VERY hard time getting back to my writing lately. I let it drop before the move because I had too much to do, and now I'm struggling with my headspace and super distracting environment. And as much as I'm beating myself up about it, the truth is sometimes you're just not in a place where you can write and forcing it isn't that helpful. Equally, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and get your butt in the chair, and learning to tell which instances are which is maybe impossible and definitely difficult.

    If you're at 72,000 words, you must be closing in on the end of the draft, right? That last bit just flies by, at least for me. I crank out way more than I usually can because I'm just so anxious to get done. It's kind of a magical time.

  8. Procrastination is usually my sub-conscious screaming at me I'm going in the wrong direction. Well..., except when it's my brain taking a total break - it does demand that down time once in a while :)

  9. I hit a snag with my story a few weeks ago and didn't write a thing for a week. When I forced myself to actually sit down and write something, the words just rushed out. So, I agree that taking a break can be a good thing.

    I have something for you at my blog:)

  10. I'm a procrastinator too. We should start a club. :) I'm a big believer that everything works out the way it's supposed to. You write when you're meant to.

  11. Q: I’ve decided to break up with him as well. Granted the time away gave me supercharged writing fingers when I finally pushed him out (3.5k words that very day!). No more though - from here until I’ve finished this sucker.

    Shannon: I know oh, so much about those teeny tiny melt downs - my kitties have witnessed more than their fair share, haha. I hope you have a FABULOUS day off of work! Good luck on the revising 

    Cristin: I have a partial e-mail drafted to you - I keep running out of time to finish it (more thought goes into that than commenting back on here) but I, for some reason, thought you still had MONTHS left before coming back to the states! I’m sorry, I know it has to be such a huge adjustment. Find your balance - or it will find you, so either way I know you’ll be writing again before you know it!
    And I think I’ve just discovered what you mean by the end flying by. All the sudden the pace is picking up and I’m excited and don’t want to stop writing. It’s a nice feeling, after the way I’d been just kind of plodding around.

    Jemi: I think... I THINK that this procrastination may have been similar to the way yours tells you you’re going in the wrong direction... except in this case, it stopped me from going in the wrong direction. Because I love, love the place I’m going now 

    Melane: YES. I know exactly what you’re talking about - the words so rushed out today. I couldn’t stop them. I wish it was like this EVERY DAY, haha. And YAY! Am hopping over to your blog pronto!

    Karen: I would so be down for that club... Next manuscript though because I made a promise to myself NOT to procrastinate again until this draft is finished. I also believe that things work out how they’re meant to. Sometimes it just takes time!

  12. Breaks are definitely a good thing.
    I found myself taking a much needed one from working on my manuscript on Wednesday. I figure Veteran's Day should be reserved, so I did. It really helped me yesterday when I sat down at the computer. Though my dog, Peanut Butter, really thought that the break should be longer. He sits on my laptop and tries to keep it shut. Cute? yes.

    I love your blog by the way & discovered you through Shannon's (Messenger).



Yay! I love when you have things to add :)