I like to think some procrastination is productive. Actually, Stephen King recommends putting your manuscript away for 6 months so when you pull the dusty, overworked thing back out into the light of day, you’re looking at it with the fresh eyes. One can also call this “put-it-away-in-a-drawer” a massive homage to procrastination, but I believe Stephen King. Don’t you?
On the other hand, I see that often we do little things to procrastinate that really move ancillary projects forward. Grocery shopping in the middle of a writing project does help to gather food in the house that will sustain life. Going out to a movie almost counts. Popcorn definitely makes you think more clearly and the movie feeds your creative muse!
Seriously, taking a walk to think about one’s horribly knotty problem of the day, whether it’s solving a character’s graceful exit or having some other character perform an unplanned exit for them is often productive. Working on bills to break from an assignment is often necessary to gain distance and perspective. Plus it gets the bills paid, which is productive.
Then there’s the procrastination that accompanies your plain unfamiliarity with the task at hand. Ignorance brings us all to face to face with our favorite distractions. The learning mountain seems insurmountable. Your ability to reach ‘base camp’ appears to be impossible. The refrigerator is your best friend. TV, a temptress. Sleep, a seducer.
Ah… but there’s a cure. The only cure. Ease into it though. Promise that you have 10 minutes more to “procrastinate.” Then jump in. Start. Begin. Commence. Flail and fume and fuss all the way. But when it’s time, it’s time. Go. Do.
We borrow our identities when we give in to outside approval. It’s a counter-force to innovation if we listen to the inner voice that says, “What if they don’t like it?” It squelches the courage to ship. We don’t need approval at the creative stage. In fact, we don’t need it at all unless we want to sell what we’ve made. Anyone knows that. And so we borrow the attention of anyone we can to ask for their approval. Over and over we ask “Did I get it right this time?” “Do you like this?” “Am I OKAY?”
My dog is persistent but at some point, he gives up, content to just be. He understands that after a certain point, his borrowing of my time and attention is an unacceptable imposition. Why don’t people get that?
What about the borrow “bank”? If you borrow money, you use it, and must pay it back. But when we borrow people’s time, we can never pay it back. Time is gone the minute it’s spent. One cannot be on “borrowed” time.” There’s no future to borrow from. It’s not here. The past has been borrowed out. No reserves fund that bank. It’s been cleaned out as it were by the ravages of time.
Is that what Shakespeare meant Hamlet Act 1, scene 3, 75–77 by “Neither a borrower nor a lender be.”? The verse continues, “For borrowing or loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.” I think Polonius was really talking about money, but the application to the idea of time is all the more appropriate. Really… don’t lend your time, and don’t ask to “borrow” it from someone else. You cannot give it back.
We need simplicity to create. We need: offloading, clarity, sparseness, clean lines. Make it a focused, spare, and clutter-free mental environment. We require an absence of interruptions, those nasty bug bites that send our creative muse to dance at another party.
We’d like to think other people stop the flow. No. In our heart of hearts, we KNOW that interruptions are largely self-inflicted! Most of the interlopers are our own self-doubts that are pushed through our “I’m-A-Fake” filter, so that the destructive chatter catches our ear, and we actually stop to listen to the nonsense. We are the nosy hens unable to stop ourselves from pecking at the leaky feed bag even though we just ate. Not only is the mumble a disassociation from the subconscious requirements to imbue the Activity with Spirit, it even lures Conscious Thought that needs to be present in the Creation.
If we’re creating in words, paint, music, charcoal or dance, it matters not. We’d like to think there there are physical or mental limits to the extent of uninterrupted concentration. We say we have to eat, take restroom breaks, pause to think before stepping into the next flow. But we rarely challenge the structural integrity of the Composition Room. Even stopping to think lets the Editor stomp on the Creation, kicking words, tossing notes, smudging colors so that you’re stuck in the mud of doubt. You’ve lost your groove and don’t know if you really had it. It’s hard to tell, it was so long ago that you started.
Welcome the simplicity of uninterrupted creation. Set your timer and don’t move until you have something to show for the time. Even if it’s a painful stretch without a needed restroom break, stay the course. Reward yourself at the end. A smile will do.
Immunization against insinuation of information into the insanity of instantaneous interruption and insidious imperfections invites investigation.
Individuals interested in including informed implications of important inroads into the ignorance of intermittent immersion are instructed to ignore inner itches and implore the id to inure itself against impish interlopers.
Indelibly ingrained in the implications are immediate interventions against individuals’ implicit inclinations to intake all incoming inputs indiscriminately.
Informed individuals ignore interruptions and insist on isolation.
Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Showing up is one of those things that results from “should” winning the argument against “shallow.” Shallow says, “I’m so tired. I worked so hard this week. I need to stay home and rest up for the next week. I deserve a break. If I don’t go, I can stay wrapped around this book, bowl of popcorn, martini, television program, etc.” Showing up is about digging down into the hard dirt, and doing what you should do.
Here’s an example. A friend of our son’s is a pianist. The pianist has a younger brother who is an actor/singer. My husband and I attended both boys’ performances. Each event turned out to be hugely entertaining and beat out sitting in front of The Tube a thousand to one. But the best part of both evenings came when the boys saw that we had come. It’s not that we are fast friends. We are just parental units whom they know through our sons. But it made us all feel good. Enough other people showed up so that together, seated around stages in darkened rooms, we became audiences. Audiences make it worthwhile. Audiences witness. We want witnesses. Continue reading “Success Is About Showing Up”
Don’t you just love it when she comes? Somehow she sneaks in, and poof! She has emptied the dishwasher without your knowledge. You mosey into the kitchen, the scowl of “I have to empty the dishwasher” furrowing your brow and curving the corners of your mouth down. But imagine your surprise! Hah. She came. A smile sneaks across your face (just like she tiptoed into the kitchen) and your day has suddenly improved from wherever it was.
First happy: You have a dishwasher! Second Happy: The dishes are clean! BEST HAPPY: I didn’t have to put them away!
So if you don’t own a dishwasher, be the happiness fairy in your home. Do something else that will make the world turn more smoothly for someone else in your life. Take out the trash, make the coffee, sweep, mow, wash, sing, dance, or make a towel animal. It’s so much more fun.
How can one small 10 minute talk change your frame of reference? Check out the TED talk
here, and see if it doesn’t change your day. We are buried in technology, bombarded by emails, stifled by content (yes, this is content!), and smothered in our own busy-ness. Huffing and puffing from one catastrophe to the next, we fail to look up.
Do yourself a favor. Go outside. Look up. If there is a cloud, you’re in luck. If not… well, then, think of a time when you saw one that you liked.