Procrastination is my friend.  Okay, maybe not my very best friend in all the world, and certainly there has been betrayal on both sides of the equation, but still.  Most of my life I’ve bought into the opinion presented by the collective:  Procrastination is Bad.  It is a secret vice, and my frequent forays into its domain must be hidden from others. 

I’ve had fairly long spells of being on the wagon.  During these times I avoid reading new and interesting books because they might cause me to neglect my responsibilities.  I get up every morning at five, do my Yoga, write in my journal, go to work, feed my family, pay my bills, and go to bed on time.  Things get done.  Drama is avoided.

Life gets boring.

And then, an episode of weakness, with books I can’t put down and secret chocolate binges and late night hours, followed by the inevitable collision with reality.  This time around, I committed to editing a newsletter, put it off until not quite the last minute, and discovered that the previous editor, (the previous editor who knows everything and was going to help me oh, so much) has gone on vacation and left no forwarding address.

Panic.  Drama.  And then, that wonderful exhiliration kicks in, the assurance that I can pull this off, that I enjoy the challenge of facing down a deadline.  My brain is suddenly alive with ideas, my body is energized, I feel wide awake and capable of anything.  Years ago, in high school, and later at university, I operated this way all the time, pulling papers off the printer as I ran out the door on my way to class without a minute of time to spare.  They were good papers.  They earned me A’s.  

And then I had kids, and procrastination didn’t work any more.  That intuitive sense of exactly how much time was required for a task didn’t account for ear infections and flu bugs and sleepless nights.  Besides, The Collective had always said procrastination was a weakness, a flaw, that discipline should take its place.  In all honesty, this has worked well for me over the years in many ways, except that nothing equals the creative buzz inspired by a looming deadline.

Today, as I was processing creative input about the newsletter dilemma, it occurred to me that there ought to be a way to make procrastination work in my writing life.  The trouble with trying to get published is this: there’s not going to be a deadline until a publisher sets one, and a publisher is never going to set one unless I send something out in the first place.  The novel revision I’ve been putting off could probably be done in a week with the application of a good old carrot and stick, but where is the carrot and stick going to come from?

Unfortunately, deadlines I set for myself are useless.  I’ve spent so many years living with my own failure to get things done that another delay just causes a shrug and a brief and easily ignored sensation of inadequacy.  So I ask myself – what if I caused myself a little drama?  What if I sent a query and synopsis off to a selected group of agents before the revision was done.  Would the prospect of somebody asking to see the manuscript before it is completed kick off an adrenaline response?  Probably.  Of course, there are a million ways to postpone the writing of the synopsis and query letter, tasks which can be procrastinated inevitably.

Which brings me full circle to where I started, except I have now spent my daily allotment of synopsis writing time creating this blog.

My name is Uppington Smythe, and I am a procrastinator.

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