True Confessions of a Procrastinator
By Lauren Francis
You know that feeling. You're bursting
with wonderful ideas when there's nothing you can do
about it. At work, in the car, at the grocery store, in the
shower. But when you do get in front of the desk/drawing
board, all you want to do is play a game of solitaire.
We've all been there, friend.
Me, most of all.
What turns normal, law-abiding citizens
to the dark side of procrastination? When the time to work
a master at rationalizing why I can't/don't have
to/don't want to work.
I really do have good intentions.
I purchased a book on organization for creative people
a few years ago. It's
buried in one of these piles here somewhere… I take
classes, hoping that will guilt me into getting work done
on time (or at all). I just end up getting more stressed
and more behind. I need help
Listen to the Voice Within
conscience knows exactly what we should be doing; I should
just listen to her. But she's
so smug and bossy.
I suppose if I only do something
when I feel like it, it's
a hobby, not a career. Is something trying to tell me that
I'm on the wrong track? Maybe I should try to look
at my work in a different light or go in a different direction.
Ditch-digger? Ice sculptor? Cross-walk attendant? Maybe all
I have to do is work harder and smarter.
Time and Place
and easily distracted, I'm the kind
of person who can't even carry on a coherent conversation
while the TV is on. I'm kidding myself if I think I
can “create” in a chaotic environment.
Maybe I could carve out a couple
of hours a day of quiet time; after everyone has gone to
bed or first thing in the morning. I've heard that
success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. I do so
hate to sweat, though.
it's 10:00 pm. The family's in bed and
I'm sitting at my computer. I've got my inspirational
music and a 6-pack of Diet Coke. I'll just check my
e-mail, then get to work.
Two hours later, I'm still trying to wade through
the hundreds of messages from the five children's book-related
groups to which I belong.
I guess this information will still
be out there when I'm
One (or Two) at a Time
e-mail's under control. Time to get to work.
So, I've got a new idea for this story--and wait! I'm
going to finish this chapter over here--but first I need
to start the sketches for that dummy—and organize this
paperwork, then work on the cover for this picture book… Geez,
I'm tired. I think I'll take a nap.
Fine, I'll concentrate on one main project and set
realistic milestones. I'll still log stray ideas that
pop up, but I'll do my best to return to the project
Okay, I picked
one project to complete. It's been
sitting there for months; I've been avoiding it like
a poisonous creature with dripping fangs. I read through
it again and have a distinct urge to run off and join the
circus. I suppose it's mostly about fear. I don't
know about you, but I have a major fear of failure. I also
get discouraged easily; if something doesn't work right
away, I want to quit.
Crud Is My Friend
now on, the first draft of anything is strictly for my eyes
only. I won't even show it to my cat. I am
free to produce the worst writing/drawing known to humankind.
I am one with my cruddiness and I'll try not to get
discouraged or stressed. Buried in the dross are nuggets
of something shiny. Sure they need to be plucked out and
polished up, but I can't do that if I'm afraid
the make the crud in the first place.
Hey, what have I got to lose? A few
hundred games of Solitaire? One more re-run of Law
and Order? Better yet, think of all I have to gain: the warm
fuzzies knowing that I worked hard and made something special,
the confidence to hold my head up high and be an equal
with my illustrious writer/artist friends, and just think
of all the money I'll save
not buying cases of antacids.
So now you know all my dirty little
secrets in my battles with disorganization, apathy, lack
of focus and fear. I suppose it's a good thing I
have a conscience around to keep me on the straight and
Can I take her advice? Hey, I finally finished
this article; that's
“Anyone can do any amount of work,
provided it isn't
the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment” – Robert