Avoidance: How Procrastination Painted My Dining Room
Some days I’ll do anything to avoid doing the thing I should be doing most. It’s a backwards approach to being productive, but this particular pattern of behavior usually means something awesome is on the horizon.
My old friend. I’ve made it a part of my identity. Don’t believe me? Check out my bios—anywhere.
“Gregory Josephs is an author … who believes … procrastination is the product of an intensely creative mind.”
It’s here on this site. It’s in my Twitter profile. It’s on the back of my book. I explained a little of it in my post in defense of procrastination—basically arguing that putting off what needs to be done until the last minute allows more time for doing what wants to be done—but there’s more to the story here (for me) when it comes to the really big things.
I have this backwards approach to productivity sometimes, which is funny for someone so obsessed with being constantly productive. It’s like—
Sometimes I have to exhaust every other obligation before I can really focus my attention on what I want to do. This is especially true when what I want to do and need to do cross paths in a perfect eclipse.
It’s a clearing of the deck, of sorts. It’s a way to make room for total devotion to the task. And further, it’s a way to work up a little longing and remorse. The guilt that accompanies not doing something can be a powerful motivator.
But this is all very nonspecific, amirite? I’m even procrastinating getting to the point.
I’m talking about writing, of course. That’s the big thing on the horizon. It’s the thing I should be doing that I’m just not.
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Revenge is better with a side of bacon. . .
See, one of these days—very soon—I’m going to put down the first words of a new novel. But not tomorrow. And not the next day either. And probably not next week, because, see, I have so many…
Reasons Not To Write
In last month’s newsletter to my super-awesome email subscribers, I told them I was going to be starting my new book just after the new year. And yeah, I’m excited! And yeah, it’ll probably get going before January is over, but…
It’s going to be hard. Unlike my first novel, which was loosely autobiographical, this new book is going to be totally fantastical. Mind you, not fantasy, but totally made-up. And the story is both complicated and tight. It needs to be outlined before I start, which is somewhat counter to how I work as a writer.
I’m one of those throw-the-characters-in-a-situation-and-let-them-figure-it-out types. There’s room for a little of that in this new story, but there are certain plot intersections that are necessary to pull it off. So I need to have those just-right before I start.
And it’s all forming in my head, and not much of it is making it into the outline yet because I’m putting it off in any possible way I can.
I’ve come up with some ingenious distractions. Since the new year started I have avoided writing by:
- Mixing, rolling, cutting, and freezing four pounds of sweet potato gnocchi
- Obsessively working on my recipe for turnip and watermelon-radish latkes
- Swapping the office and dining room in our house (with Brian’s help, of course)
- Starting to re-paint the new dining room, making sure to be sloppy enough with the trim that this project will extend to at least the middle of next week
- Continuing to re-paint the new dining room. Continuing to be sloppy (now I’m really going to have to paint the trim)
- Meticulously researching the ownership of my house back to its construction in 1910 (apparently Charles L. Church owned this whole block… ) [Why? Why not?!]
- Baking Irish potato bread using more pesky sweet potatoes
- Developing a pasta sauce from sweet dumpling squash and swiss cheese
- Listening to at least 20 hours of NPR
- Celebrating Prince Luca’s sixth adoption day
- Writing this blog post
And so much more…
If you’ve got further suggestions for ways to occupy my time other than writing, I’m all ears!
Of course, sometime toward the end of next week, I’m going to run out of distractions. And that’s a good thing.
I’m barely staving off the inevitable. This new book is demanding to be written. And the truth is, while I think I’m procrastinating, perhaps I’m really just incubating. With every pass of that paint roller I’m chewing and plotting.
At the bottom of each compression of the dough I’m kneading, I leave a little imprint of clarity and realize: glutens aren’t the only thing developing in my kitchen.
If—as I say—procrastination is the product of an intensely creative mind, I’m certainly not lacking in the creativity department. But I wonder…
Maybe I should say that procrastination enables the intensely creative mind—allows it time to lay fallow, become fertile, and ultimately bloom.
Or maybe I’m just, you know, putting things off.
Looks like it’s time to put on the top coat.
Share your thoughts! Do you procrastinate when you’re working up to something big? Can you juggle big projects and little ones at the same time? For extra credit, what do you think of the new color of my new dining room? Any ideas for ways to use up my piles of sweet potatoes? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks as always for reading,