Next Stop, Procrastination Station!
I’m pretty sure every writer, at one point or another, has prolonged their writing journey with a layover at a little place I like to call Procrastination Station. I mean, there is just always something that can interrupt the flow of a good intention, right? And, Procrastination Station is THE elite destination for wayward writers who need a little vacay from their imaginations.
Some may stay just long enough to catch their breath, a little pit stop along their path. And some may stay longer, waiting until the last possible moment before they continue the next leg of their journey. Some may never leave. Whatever the length of time spent at the Station, I’m here to tell you there is a purpose and a place in life for procrastination and it can be an important part of the writing process, as long as the end goal is still in view.
Author confession #235: I have frequented the station many, many times.
Yep, and I’m even been able to justify my stays there. I mean, who doesn’t write better under pressure? Uh-huh. A looming deadline? Why, they’re the bee’s knees. Yeah, right.
However, I find that every time I am “putting off for tomorrow what I could be doing today” (thanks, Dad), I begin to feel horribly guilty, stressed out, and somewhat incompetent. Why? Because somewhere along the way, I picked up the notion that true writers, you know, the real dedicated ones, are always intensely focused and continuously writing . . . oh, and brooding (but that’s an entirely different post altogether).
Anyway, when I find myself in this place of writing limbo, not because I am necessarily stuck or “blocked,” but because I just can’t get started for whatever reason (and there are so, so, so many reasons), I begin to think about why.
Why am I lollygagging? What is the root of my dallying? Why am I the worst writer ever?
The answer often doesn’t come to me in that particular moment, but more often when I’ve had a bit of time to reflect. And, quite simply, the answer is I just wasn’t quite ready, either intellectually or emotionally, to move forward. Maybe I needed a mental hiatus to sit down and do something completely off topic. Maybe I hadn’t worked out a plot point and instead of plowing my way through it, I gave myself license to meander. Maybe I;m just a girl who wanted to have a little fun?
The point is, often times in reflection, I discover I shouldn’t feel bad for putting things off a little (as long as it didn’t get out of control), that at the end of the day, my responsibilities were taken care of. I should embrace my time at the Station. I stopped for a reason and after all, everyone needs a break. And, I cannot possibly be my best writer self if I’m all grumpy and stressed.
And, basically, that is what it boils down to. Personal responsibility, self-care, and choice. I don’t need to second guess myself if I procrastinate a little because I am comfortable with my level of personal responsibility. I don’t need to feel guilty because this is my choice because I do it out of self-care. I need to trust myself. I need to trust my process (which may include a little literary loitering).
Procrastination is something that happens… we’re not robots. When it happens to me, I’m learning to listen to it. Looking back on previous stops at the Station, I realize there were specific reasons why I chose to post up. I needed to be there because even though I wanted to continue forward, I just wasn’t ready to move on.
And, my writing is better for it.
So, whether it’s for a potty break or a full on retreat, I say embrace your procrastination. Fully live it, remember that all of life’s experiences can be valuable ones, and know that when you are ready, there is another train waiting to take you to your next destination, wherever it may be.