I have a lot to learn about procrastination, as I discovered reading Adam Grant's fascinating article on procrastination vs. pre-crastination. I am a chronic pre-crastinator.
I'm learning to challenge my impulse to act immediately on something and get it done as quickly and breathlessly as possible. Instead, I'm practicing more waiting in my work -- or at least, trying to, often failing.
Stopping is hard for me. I think it's hard for a lot of us. We get caught in a busy trap: neither a creative, balanced, sustainable or even productive way to be, longterm, but a popular state of mind. Filling time and space with activity is an easy addiction. I've spent good time avoiding my emotions, relationships, problems, thoughts and life this way, in recent years, under the guise of accomplishment - or proving my worth through relentless doing.
As I read in Grant's article (read it!), some tests have shown higher levels of creativity in procrastinators. Pre-crastinators like me have this physiological need to start getting things done as fast as possible and finish as early as possible. This doesn't necessarily lead to better results, and often leads to more ordinary ideas. First thought isn't always best thought.
It's important to let life happen. Waiting allows for that. So does wandering. These magic Ws allow for discursive thinking, thinking on the backside of the brain. More evolved ideas emerge. When I practice art in this way -- making and then stopping and stepping away before returning -- the more I become the me I was at 12, 13, 14 years old in upstate New York.
Those days, I spent lots of time in nature in my own independent study. I was home-schooled then, and took advantage of that time to write, draw, read and play as much as I wanted, in between other learning. That me was more friendly toward making, and wasn't perfectionistic or frantic in her art. There was even a sense of laziness to her, which was inherently curious. I watched, observed, let my mind roam. That is the me I'm longing to return into.
She is my ideal. That girl who sat on logs, usually damp felled maples with their bark soft and crumbling off, sketched mallards and built gnome-houses in the woods beside our white barn on Mott Road. As an an adult, approaching 32, I have a lot to learn from her.
As much as a year of ease and joy, perhaps I can make 2016 a year of waiting and wandering. Anne Bluethenthal would be happy to hear about that, my professor who gently pushed me into assigned wandering last winter. I was desperate then, in my making. I didn't quite know that over-working was the thing keeping me treading choppy water while seconds from drowning. Clouded by this deceptive activity, I couldn't quite define what I was doing and I knew it was never enough.
So enough of that. I know I'm enough - or I know I need to know that. I don't need to prove myself to anyone. More and more, I'm actually believing the truths I want my friends and dear ones to hear.
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Process notes on a work in progress (me). This mostly contains raw rough content pulled out of practice notebooks. Occasional posts also invite you into the way I work, with intermittent notes on the hows and whys on the whats I make. Less often you may also find prompts and processes I've brought to workshops, as well as surveys that help me gather material for projects. Similar earlier posts from years ago can be found on: