Archive for the ‘procrastination’ Category

It’s half an hour off noon and I’m only just picking up my pen. I wish I could say it was a great night and I don’t regret it. But i had a quiet night in and I didn’t drink too much, and I still have nothing to show for this morning.

Yesterday I started earlier, 9am, and at least got some pages, scrappy and incoherent though they be. Wednesday morning I read a philosophy paper and formulated a couple of questions. Tuesday I went through some notebooks from 2003 with an idea for a memoir. Monday i went to a class, and didn’t, though I intended to, get back to work.

I desperately admire writers who claim to keep regular office hours. (I was just reading about one such in the toilet, Saturday Guardian Review.) That is my aim too, but it doesn’t seem to materialise. They say those who fail to plan, plan to fail, but planning for me is just another form of procrastination.

If I look from the beginning of the month: one week spent preparing a book for a competition; one week sorting out my paperwork – and I’m only halfway through; and this week, detailed above. The wek of editing and formatting was probably time well spent and, though tedious, moved me forward to my goal. The week of sorting paper was arguably necessary, but how can it take a week to half sort out the paper mountain?

The danger, of course, is that half-sorted is the worst of both worlds. If I don’t finish the sorting, I will just slide back into chaos, with my new systematic piles toppling onto the archaeological layers of the old mess, resulting in serendipitous layers of organisation uncovered like exotic sandwich filling in the next big sort-out.

So how do other writers do it? When you get rich, I suppose you can have secretaries, PAs, and cleaners to move your mess for you. But most writers aren’t rich and have to rely on their own resources.

My aim, in reanimating this blog is to publicly shame myself into getting something done. I will report on my efforts here, even if only to say: wasted day. If i clock up enough wasted days perhaps I’ll start to shape up. Watch this space.

Yesterday I handed in my essays within an hour of the deadline. I’d had two months to complete the assignment. After the last one went right up to the wire, I swore that I would manage my time better. I’d spread the work out over the allotted time, tackle a bit a day. Yeah, yeah, how likely was that?
This is a genuine puzzle to me. Unlike the stroppy schoolkid whose behaviour this resembles, no one is making me do this. I chose to do it. I’m paying to do it. I’m really into the subject. It’s not like the business module on my MA course, a necessary dry adjunct to what I really wanted to do. I have a rational understanding about the best way to proceed. I have a genuine desire to do it. And yet I behave as if I can only be motivated with a gun to my head.
The wizard says: it’s because your life is run by a 5-year old. Your rational self is dictated to by a child-like emotional self that will scream and scream and scream till she’s sick.
Not a pretty picture, but I suspect accurate.
I was reminded, reading the Time Traveller of the film, Forbidden Planet. It’s a 50s sci-fi version of The Tempest, where Caliban becomes the Monster from the Id. The Id, the Freudian unconscious, is here represented as a huge rampaging lustful murderous dino-gorilla. In my experience the Id is charming lotus-eater and prankster, by turns lazy and frenetically excited. More like Emily Dickinson’s:

The manner of the Children —
Who weary of the Day —
Themself — the noisy Plaything
They cannot put away —

The thing about the 5-year old is she’s not ill-intentioned. she doesn’t mean to sabotage my plans. In fact intwention is probably the wrong word. She’s a creature of the moment, easily distractible but also distracting.
M says I know how to deal with a 5-year old – which is true but rather begs the question: who is in the driving seat, who is ‘I’?