Procrastination, for me, happens for two reasons: fear and laziness.
Fear, or resistance or doubt, is all about subtle manipulations of thought that convince me not to work on what I know I need to work on. It’s mostly about what I fear will come from actually doing whatever it is that I’m avoiding.
Laziness is just simply not wanting to do the work. It usually comes from preferring to do something else, something non-productive—reading, watching TV or movies, etc. When I get into a habit of doing nothing, spending my time off just lying around, the laziness gets stronger and stronger.
But is laziness ever really there? Or is it just another insidious form of fear?
The way to address fear is to keep pulling apart its reasoning and dig to the source. For example, my current procrastination in revising is probably due to fearing having to show my work, and having to face what my work can actually be (as far as a career goes). It’s also fear that no amount of revision will make my work as good as I’d like it to be, and that as much as I said a first draft didn’t matter, what if it’s the best I can do? And what if that’s not good enough?
So I just have to continually fight off these fears, remind myself that it’s a process, that I can just keep writing and learning if it’s not good enough, etc. It’s not a one-time fix—you have to keep reminding yourself how to fight those fears.
But there’s something more… laziness? Maybe. But my procrastination really started when my attempts to develop another story fell back into the same frustrating patterns as before my first draft. I worry that I’ll never write anything else, or that who knows when I’ll be able to write something else, or what it will be. And I want to have more control than that… I’m afraid of not being in control of my own creativity, especially because I would like to base my livelihood on it.
I think that’s it, or at least closer—fear of my lack of control. It’s why I want to develop a “brand,” so I’ll know the type and ‘formula’ of every work from now on. It’s why I want to put off revising until I have another project developed and solidified… because once I’m done with my current project, I have nothing. And revising while that project is the only thing I have, possibly the only thing I’ll ever have, puts so much pressure on it that I can’t do it. When it’s just one project in a long and prolific career, it doesn’t have to be great—at least, that’s the way it feels.
I hadn’t realized that when I started writing this… but I think that’s the core of my fear—fear of the unknown, fear of having no control over my future creativity, and as such, my potential career. And more than anything else, and more than laziness, that’s why I’m procrastinating.
Will identifying this be enough to push through and actually work? I don’t know yet, because I don’t yet know exactly how to fight it. Identifying the exact fear is the first step—answering that fear in a way that at least temporarily assuages it is the second.
So that’s what I’ll work on… instead of working. 🙂