How to use procrastination well.Aug 14, 2020
My editor is expecting my book draft by 5pm today.
I have known about this deadline for a long-time because I created it.
After a year of collecting notes, ideas and learnings, I have worked steadily on this book for eight solid months, writing five days a week, every single week, and then this last week, it all started getting a little less steady, five days from the end.
These are the second set of revisions of the first draft. There are some loose ends in the book that need tidying up, concepts that need weaving together, and quotes to be fact-checked. I had saved these parts until the end because I enjoy them.
But on Monday morning when I sat down to write, I stared at the screen.
Then I went back over parts that are complete and did not need my attention.
Then I found myself going through to make sure that all the numbers were hyphenated (thirty-eight), and all numbers were written, and not in their numeric form; this did not need my attention either.
Then I noticed that the window sills in my study needed cleaning, some socks needed paring and how could I write if I didn’t have some fresh flowers on my desk.
So, as I was ordering flowers for a dear colleague, I thought it was best to support a local business, and ordered some flowers for myself. Which of course I needed to arrange in vases while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack.
And then it was Tuesday.
One thing I’ve been doing is sharing the journey of writing book three on Instagram, and I shared the books I use every time I stall on a creative project. Not if I stall, but when I stall.
Someone I have admired from afar and one of my go-to resources are three books by author Steven Pressfield – The War Of Art, Turning Pro and Do The Work are bibles for those of us who need to create.
I shared the impact of his work over two days, and then I saw that he had sent me a personal message.
“I’ll share with you what a mentor told me when I wasn’t sending my manuscript; I thought it wasn’t done. He asked “Is it good?”, I replied “Yes.” He said, “Send it and start on the next one.” Go for it. Steve.
And then it was Wednesday.
At 1 am, my head is full of my book. I get out of bed and I pick up ‘Do The Work’ and read until 2 am, and I know I’m going to get this done.
My draft will be with my editor on Friday by 5pm.
Not because I am a superwoman, but because I have so many tools in my tool belt, tools that I can pull out when I need them. One of these tools is owning when I am stuck, and then asking for and allowing support.
Procrastination can be a tool for progress, not a reason to stop, and definitely not a reason to judge yourself and your discipline, your worth or your commitment.
When we own that we are procrastinating, we can look at ourselves with amusement; I certainly was as I was cleaning my window sill.
It can be scary to begin a project, and even more terrifying to finish it. Knowing this is powerful because then we can reach out for support and that allows others to reach in.
Wishing you a weekend of beginning or ending, with a very clean window sill.