April first and no fooling, it’s time to embark on my Camp Nanowrimo writing project. I’ll be writing 1,200 words a day, every day this month. So when I saw the article titled: Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self Control), in the New York Times last week it seemed apropos. It’s a long read and at risk of encouraging said procrastination, I recommend it. In it Lieberman argues that:
“Procrastination isn’t a unique character flaw or a mysterious curse on your ability to manage time, but a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks — boredom, anxiety, insecurity, frustration, resentment, self-doubt and beyond.”
This insight is particularly important for writers because crafting meaningful narratives that have emotional resonance requires us to access our lived experiences and to practice empathy. We need to allow ourselves to feel deeply when we imagine and remember experiences that run the gamut of emotions from thrilling to terribly painful. As any writer knows, it’s hard work – hard emotional work.
Of course people avoid work for all sorts of reasons, but acknowledging the emotional labor required to create a deeply-felt story is a useful tool in managing the time and resources needed to get the work done. That’s why I titled this post “managing” procrastination. If procrastination is tied to our emotions, and we cannot “defeat” or “banish” them, then we must work with them. I think it is more useful to acknowledge the push-pull of time, tasks, and emotions – especially when the task is one that requires us to venture inward and draw out something that has emotional weight and impact.
That said, in How to Defeat Procrastination With the Psychology of Emotional Intelligence, Christopher Rim offers a few more tools for understanding the mechanisms of procrastination. Including this gem:
“Perfectionism is procrastination’s Instagram persona. It may look like perfection, but it’s actually underperformance. The more perfection you strive for, the less you’ll accomplish.”
As the saying goes: done is better than perfect. So that’s my goal for this month, every day, one day at a time, find a way to get 1,200 words down.
BTW there are still a couple of spots in the Armadillocon Camp Nanowrimo cabin. I’m on the site as curiousworlds – message me there or comment below for an invite. It’s never too late to set a daily goal!