I work best under stress. It clears my head of the cobwebs that form when backed into the corner of indecision and overthinking. And either intentionally or unintentionally I procrastinate until I’m one toe over a deadline. At the edge of a crumbling cliff. And there are alligators below. Hungry, hungry ZOMBIE alligators.
It’s not like the stress-induced craziness that comes while trying to write my way out of the corner is appealing. Palpating heart. Sweaty palms. Cursing. And that’s just from the people unfortunate enough to be near me. (The librarian still scowls when I show up on Saturday).
Procrastination, according to researchers, is the choice of short term pleasure in spite of impending negative consequences. It’s really not about laziness. For some (me) it’s about fear of doing something less than perfectly. For others (also me) it’s an overwhelming impulsive need to jump up and do something different when things doen’t come easily or immediately.
I’ve given birth. I’ve moved six times in eight years. Started a new job a half dozen times. Moved to a foreign country. And nothing scares me more than that blank page. My brain shuts down when the impulsiveness hits and walking away is less stressful than facing the blank page.
To overcome this, I learned to set small goals. REALLY small goals. Day one, I’ll sit there for five minutes. I don’t have to write, though I will try, but I do have to sit at the computer with the story open in front of me. From there, I extend the time limit by five minutes. The panic that hits me when the words don’t come immediately does start to subside after a bit. And soon, the panic doesn’t hit at all. I know the words will come. Eventually.
I use other tactics to get in the mood to write. I set a scene for my writing space – candles, music or white noise. I favor ocean waves. When I put in motion the pre-writing set-up, I find the panic or procrastination start then, instead of when I’m actually facing the blank page and by the time the page is in front of me, I’m calmer.
I wish I could be one of those people who just has stories pour from their finger tips as they pound out thousands of words each day. But I’m not and that’s ok. If I were that kind of writer, I’d be different and I like my writing.
Happy writing everyone!