Monday, January 12, 2015

Procrastination Nation

Image courtesy of Graur Codrin at
Oh my goodness...I never thought that after NaNoWriMo in November, then a chaotic December, would make getting back to my regular blogging schedule so difficult.  And today, the procrastination monster really got to me.  I realized that I have to teach guitar lessons in half an hour and that if I want to watch Star Wars Rebels, then I really need to get my blog post done before that.

(Yes, I watch Star Wars Rebels.)

Fortunately, this ties in with a topic that I was recently asked - if you are using writing specifically to procrastinate, does that affect the quality of your writing?, not really. Not in my case. In fact, I've found that if I'm really desperate to avoid doing something, I throw myself headlong into some other thing.  In other words, some of my best writing has been done because I was desperately trying to avoid doing something else.

In the long run, though, using writing to procrastinate will eventually backfire on itself.  The more you procrastinate on other things (chores, school, jobs, feeding yourself, sleeping, etc.) the more likely you are to push yourself into an unstable mental state.

By 'unstable,' I don't mean 'crazy.' You see, everybody has a 'baseline' mental state where we are at our happiest.  When you procrastinate, you eventually allow things to pile up to an insurmountable level, which stresses you out.  This pushes you away from 'baseline' and into a negative mental state.

You know, stress, anxiety and a sense of OhMyGawIHaveTenMillionThingsToDoAndFiveMinutesToDoItAAAAAAAAUUUGGHHHH!

Not the best mental state to be in.

Anything that is bad for your mental state is also bad for your writing.  If you use writing to procrastinate, you subconsciously begin to associate writing with procrastinating, and if you're anything like me, procrastination has a ton of guilt associated with it.  Eventually, you'll start to associate writing with guilt, with a sense of "I shouldn't be doing this."  And that will definitely affect your writing in a negative way. Maybe not in terms of the quality of the writing, but certainly in your psychological approach to it.

Sometimes, I get depressed about my writing, because I feel like somehow it's not a valuable use of my time. And you know why?  It's because I've used writing as a procrastination tool waaay too often. I'm somebody whose life ambition has been "writer" since I was fourteen years old, and I feel like writing is not a valuable use of my time.  Seriously, I feel guilty when I do a lot of writing instead of taking care of other responsibilities.  This would be like a construction worker feeling guilty that he built a bunch of stuff all day instead of, say, vacuuming his carpets at home.  Sure, he has other responsibilities, but he's a construction worker.  What else would you expect him to do know, construct stuff?

We all procrastinate.  (And those who don't admit it now will admit it...eventually.) But if you make a habit out of using your writing as a procrastination tool, you may notice some repercussions down the road. So...your writing might not be bad quality because you wrote it while procrastinating, but you might find that your quality of life (and definitely your peace of mind) won't benefit either.

The best thing you can do for your writing is to practice good time management and live a healthy, stress-free life.

...And once you figure out how to do all of that, let me know how you did it, will you?  I'd really like to know how.

What's your #1 task to procrastinate?  Mine used to be schoolwork but now it's folding laundry. Seriously, I let that junk pile up until my dressers are empty but I have ten baskets of clean unfolded clothes. Do you agree that using writing as a procrastination tool can be detrimental, or do you find that your experience is different from mine? Share any thoughts or questions in the comments.

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  1. I procrastinate dealing with health insurance. In fact, I should be calling my healthcare provider about a bill right now...


    1. In all fairness, Stacia, most people would rather peel their eyeballs than deal with health insurance companies.

  2. Homework, of course. Algebra II/Trig is the worst. I agree that it can be detrimental after a point. So far, though, I personally haven't run into that issue.