Procrastination – it's the enemy of art. Even our busy columnist Kirsty Logan, who juggles writing with editing and teaching, can't escape from its clutches. This week, she writes about her struggles with the big P...
My girlfriend and I have just started a Couch to 5K programme.
We’re still very much at the “couch” end, but it’s going well – we’ve made it around the local park three times a week without collapsing in a heap of wobbling flesh, which is something. And I don’t mean to sound like a smug gym bunny (because I think that the gym is one of the modern circles of hell), but I enjoy our runs. I genuinely, whole-heartedly enjoy them. And the more I do it, the more I see a parallel with how I am with writing.
That’s because in those minutes just before the run, I would rather do anything else in the world. I’d rather change the fuse of every plug in the house. I’d rather pluck my moustache. I’d rather clean the oven (and I do an involuntary shudder just thinking about that). Sometimes I even have to go into another room and have a silent tantrum over how much I DO NOT WANT TO BLOODY WELL RUN.
I put my hands up and confess: I am a procrastinator. Although I get a lot of things done, it’s mostly because I have a lot of things to do. Every time I have to do something, I do something else instead – and so eventually, it all gets done.
For example, I am currently supposed to be editing my first novel for my agent. Here are some things I’ve done during my “editing time”:
• Organised all the photos on my laptop into folders.
• Read my Amazon Recommended For You list and carefully ticked “not interested” or “I already own this” in order to make the suggestions ever more accurate.
• Spent hours in the library researching topics for the next two novels I want to write.
• Added album art for every song on my iPod.
• Knitted a scarf.
I did need to do those things (well, maybe not the album art). But more than anything else, I need to edit my novel – which is exactly why I don’t want to do it.
The thing about procrastination is that it’s not just wasting time. Watching TV instead of working isn’t procrastination, it’s just being lazy. But those dishes do need to be washed. Those emails do need to be answered. Just not right now.
Because that’s the other thing about procrastination. Conquering it isn’t a case of doing more, or doing less – it’s doing the thing you’re meant to be doing at the time, and forgetting about all the other nonsense. At least temporarily. Right now I don’t want to go for a run because I need to review a book and sew my coat button back on and see whether I can make my hair do an Elvis quiff. And I will do all those things – afterwards.
As for now, I’m off to have a silent tantrum about how much I don’t want to go for a run, and then I’m going to go for a run. Then when I get back, I’m going to edit my novel. And I’m going to bloody love it.
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