Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Procrastinating

Are you a procrastinator? I am. I’ll put off things because I know they’ll take too much time (painting the upstairs hall), because I don’t like doing them (I have a weird aversion to making phone calls), or even if they’re only vaguely unpleasant (filing papers). I’ll put things off if they involve making a decision I might make wrong (picking a web designer for Steven Graham’s new web page), or committing to something I really don’t want to do (making flight reservations to take my daughter to visit a college in Florida).

Some things I avoid because they’re both painful and time consuming (going to the dentist). Other things I avoid because I’m basically lazy (getting up to go clean the latest cat vomit). In fact, I avoid so many things it would be harder to come up with a list of things I DON’T avoid doing. (hmmm…Walking up the stairs to steal a chocolate out of the stash I bought for Dani’s Easter basket?)

Not everyone procrastinates. I have a friend who awes me. If you’re walking from her house to her car and she says, “Oh, the lawn needs to be watered,” she’ll then say, “excuse me,” and go put on the sprinkler. I never water my lawn (water it and you need to mow it).

One of my New Years Resolutions was to try to stop procrastinating. I am trying, so I guess you could say I’ve kept my resolution. I couldn’t say that if my resolution had been worded differently, i.e., Stop procrastinating.

But I’ve discovered there’s a reason I put off doing all that stuff: it ALL takes time, and time is one thing a writer doesn’t have enough of (especially when someone who used to sweat to write one book a year suddenly finds herself committed to writing TWO books a year). Unfortunately, I’m not one of those guiltless procrastinators. If I have something I should be doing, it niggles at me, it oppresses me, it keeps me awake at night. So I really do need to get a handle on this.

I wonder if hypnosis would help? Acupuncture? But that would take time, and be painful, and I’d have to use the phone to make the appointment…

7 comments:

Chap O'Keefe said...

Please don't procrastinate about letting us have the answers if you find them! I have plenty of house painting, gardening and, yes, even filing business papers . . . to all of which I try to turn a blind eye and end up with guilt feelings and bigger worries. If I let the paint on the balcony railings deteriorate too far, will I also end up with a rust removal job?

As you indicate, it comes down to time you want to spend on something else; which, for many of us here, is writing. My gut feeling is time can only be allocated at best. Some people seem to "manage" time OK. I don't. What nobody does is make more of the stuff. Glad you "found" some for your book-buying expedition. That post struck an equally familiar but happier chord.

Kate S said...

Oh, my gosh - you could have just written the story of my life. (I HATE making phone calls of any type.)

Currently, I desperately need to take care of several things, but since two of them require phone calls, they'll be put off until it becomes a crisis.

Please let us know if you find a solution!

Farrah Rochon said...

*Sheepishly raising my hand*

Fellow procrastinator here. The worst for me is returning emails. I've come to the conclusion that it stems from having to write something I can't use in my stories. My writing time is precious, and any extra writing I do seems like it takes away from my "real" writing.

Steve Malley said...

I've got a book here that promises to stop me procrastinating FOREVER.

I probably ought to get around to reading it one of these days...

Emily said...

Phonophobia is very common among writers, because it uses up our language and energies. Gail Godwin wrote an essay about how one bad phone call could wreck a writing day. She wrote that before phone machines, cell phones, and (joy to the world) e-mail all gave us shields against interruptions from the so-called real world.

Emily Toth

Charles Gramlich said...

I thought it was just me who hated making phone calls. As for procrastination, I'm much worse about it these days than I was when I was younger. I figure, sometimes sitting on my deck is what I need to do.

cs harris said...

Wow. Who'd have thought phone phobias were this common? My mother and daughters also suffer from it. Steve thinks we're all weird.