Procrastination. It’s a way of life.
More importantly, it’s my way of life. I can do almost anything, for hours at a time, if it keeps me from what I should be doing.
If given a deadline, my work will always be completed by that date. And 9/10 my work will be completed the day BEFORE, to allow me time to proofread (for the 100th time), and submit on the due date. Because of this near obsessive need to be prepared, I can proudly say that during four years of study I did not defer one piece of assessment. Come rain or come shine, in sickness and in health, I finished every assignment and sat every exam. I meet deadlines. That is just how I work.
But, left to my own devices, procrastination reigns supreme.
Take the past few days for example. In amongst working, writing, and planning, I have:
- Binge watched countless episodes of Kitchen Nightmares (which I continue to do even as I write this blog post)
- Watched ASMR videos on Youtube
- Checked every one of my social media accounts, repeatedly, despite knowing that nothing interesting is happening
- Spent hours lost on the internet
- Started reading three books, none of which I felt like continuing
- Started reading a fourth book, which I have continued to read
- Bought books online
- Bought books in store
- Cleaned my house (procrasticleaning, my old friend)
- Thought about learning to draw, so I can see what the book cover ideas I have bouncing around inside my head really look like
- Stared blankly at a wall, willing myself to do something
Honestly, this list could go on and on. My procrastination skills cannot be beaten.
It has been occurring to me that I need some kind of enforceable deadline. Earlier in the year, I tried to give myself faux deadlines. My mother is completing her masters, and I told myself that her due dates were my due dates. But my mind knew better.
My traitorous mind knew that I did not, in fact, need to have anything done by this date. That there would be no repercussions if I did not achieve my goals. So, I didn’t. The deadlines that I set myself flew by, and I was still procrastinating.
The same thing happened while writing my thesis. Months went by, and besides research, I did very little work. I told myself every week that I would have this many words written, that I would have this section completed, that I would be on to proofreading and editing. But nothing happened.
Then I asked my supervisor when she wanted to see my introduction draft. Her answer? By the next week. So in less than seven days, I went from having a confused 1000 word document containing nothing but unrelated paragraphs, to a coherent and articulate 4000 word draft. And after procrastinating all year, I finally began, then finished my thesis in a little over two months.
Now, I have been writing my book for roughly the same amount of time that I was supposed to be working on my thesis. Despite procrastinating to the same extent that I did last year, I have written the length of my thesis more than three times over. I credit this entirely to motivation. I love my book. I love it in a way that I never loved my thesis. Even when I am not writing, I am still thinking about my book. I am planning, drawing maps, researching, writing excerpts for chapters that I haven’t yet begun, and worrying how my poor characters are going to deal with what I have in store for them.
But still, this isn’t enough. I want my work completed. I want my story told, so that I can polish it until it shines the way I believe it can.
So I need deadlines. I know that.
What I still don’t know, is how to enforce them.