Learned a thing tonight: “Procrastinate” comes from the Latin crastinus, meaning, ‘belonging to tomorrow.’ That’s kind of neat, right? (The meaning, not the reality. ‘Belonging to tomorrow’ is a terrible way to feel. But I feel it all the time.)
Tonight, for a bit, I got good and pissed at myself. Wondering, WHY is this thing, which I’ve chosen as my career, which I would claim to be the thing I love most in the world, also the thing I will go to such great lengths to avoid actually doing?
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. Writers throughout time have written about this struggle. One quote I’ve seen attributed to several different writers (thanks, internet!) is: “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” No matter who said it first, it spits the truth.
Over the years, I’ve carefully honed my ability to avoid doing the things that I know are good for me. (Because, you know, I’m a person.) If I have a big deadline approaching, it’s often the case that one of two versions of myself come out to play: One is the Super-Anxious Avoider, the other is the Over-Active Achiever. Whether I self-medicate with Netflix and naps (the S.A.A.) or with cleaning my house and tackling any other to-do on my list (the O.A.A.), I am so very good at finding non-writerly ways to occupy my time.
I am so very good at driving myself crazy NOT doing the thing I want to do.
So I get good and pissed at myself. Wondering, WHY do I do that?! Who knows. I could talk to my therapist. I could read a book on creative resistance. (They’re out there; I’ve read a few. The War of Art and The Artist’s Way and The Creative Habit are particularly good.) Wouldn’t my Super Anxious Avoider just love to spend hours winnowing out the reasons why?
The important lesson I keep learning is that no matter what, when I finally make myself sit down—sticking the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair—and put in the time, I get the work done. It’s not about waiting for a magical moment of inspiration. It’s just about getting it done.
And you know what? Once I do, I always feel so GOOD. Like I can conquer the world. (Or, at the very least, the next assignment.)