Put off today what you should have done yesterday.
During the summer last year, I began fermenting a new novel which actually excited me enough to attempt to write it. Earlier in the year I completed a short novel that was producing an impressive array of rejection e-mails so for me to want to launch back into another heartache was significant to me. It had to be something I truly believed in and most of all, in order for me to survive the writing process, it had to be funny. The working title of the novel is Utopia Down and the underlying theme within the story is how people create many different realities which quite often result in some sort of reckoning. Funny, right? Outwardly no, but trust me, it will be funny. It must be funny.
Initially I jotted notes, mostly plot ideas and planned to begin writing on a September weekend retreat north with a friend at a rustic house where the night sky is star filled and the woods are saturated with placid elk. As it turned out, we had a late start, got there Friday night, ate out, split a bottle of wine and watched Arsenic and Old Lace, (a must see classic) and well, with the late night, the wine, the movie, we became groggy and turned in. The next morning some notes were actually taken after breakfast and then general talk prevailed, then our daughters came to spend the night. We went out to dinner, drank, tried to finish Arsenic and Old Lace after a rousing card game called Skip-Bo but became tired and all went to bed.. Sunday we went for a long walk and then headed back home.
In the ensuing weeks various things came up but to be honest, almost all were lame excuses. It is a pain in the ass to begin a novel and a bigger pain in the ass to work at it, so I put it on the shelf. I invented plenty of good reasons to avoid it. I put my house up for sale, sold it, as the holidays came and went. I had to pack, throw out crap and then move. Then I had to settle into a spare bedroom at my daughter's house and begin to plan and fund the construction of a casita in her back yard. The project did get my creative juices flowing however because after much contemplation, I decided to name my casita Walden, Southwest and even put in a Koi pond to simulate the pond Walden nestled his little cabin by.
After getting all those ducks lined up in a row, I felt like I could finally launch myself into the new novel. I took some more notes and watched some videos on YouTube about do's and don'ts when writing the next great masterpiece. Low and behold, I was ready!
Yet, it did get me to thinking about procrastination. To put something off has always been looked at as a negative thing, so I wondered, is it really that bad?
According to the Harvard University article, The Perks of Procrastination, it is not so bad, in fact there are upsides to putting things off. "Procrastination gives you time to consider divergent ideas, to think in nonlinear ways, and to make unexpected leaps," according to the article. I patted myself on the back because Harvard approved of my dawdling. Other articles I found in my time consuming search also mentioned how putting something off until the near deadline becomes a good fear motivator, fear releases adrenaline which is a pain killer and reducing pain makes doing a undesirable task easier. In effect putting things off until the last minute creates much energy. I was elated. Delaying the novel this long will certainly give me as much energy as Sonic the Hedgehog!
There is no doubt better ideas bloom on a project just by putting it off; when one ruminates, new ideas germinate. Many of the articles I read also point out that when faced with a deadline, people ultimately perform the task at hand in the most efficient manner because there is literally no more time to waste. I read an interview with Jim Harrison, one of my favorite authors, who explained he thought for a very long time before putting down a single word of a new novel, so much that it was complete in his head and needed little editing once the first draft was done. This can be considered a form of procrastination in which valued rumination spawns a great work of fiction.
I spent hours scanning many articles about the benefits of putting things off and felt better about my lack of discipline. Indeed during all those months of not starting the novel I came up with new characters, plot twists and great details to include and will have a lot of material to fortify once I truly begin. What's more, because of my delay, I found this subject for a new blog!
OK, I know what some of you're thinking. You think this blog was just another attempt at putting off the first chapters of my novel. I don't see it that way. Thanks to my research on procrastination, I feel justified in delaying the writing. I was doing exactly what I needed to do; I ruminated, the seeds of creativity grew and now they are ready to sprout. Best of all, I am free of the guilt of avoiding the start of my novel. It is right and of great benefit to procrastinate. In fact it has bolstered my desire to begin so much that I will launch into it tomorrow morning!
I will get right to my masterpiece after I drive my grandson to school, and oh there is that call I have to make to the builder of my casita, and those checks I need to deposit which I have been putting off, then I must get to filing my taxes.....