I love the word “saucy.” It’s a great stand-in for sassy (when that feels like it cheapens the meaning) or rude (when that feels too aggressive or offensive). It’s a perfect descriptor for my growing suspicion that I’ve tricked myself yet again into wasting untold hours when I should have been writing!
Cheeky Skepticism works too. But I’m going with Saucy Suspicion. It sounds a bit like a title to a film noir. I like that. Thanks to Putting My Feet in the Dirt for the perfect words
See I’m doing it again. Nibbling at the edges instead of getting right to it (or should I say WRITE to it)?
I didn’t used to procrastinate. I was one of those annoying “always get things done early” kind of gals. But then I entered academia and everything changed. Or should I say grading changed everything. Like most of my teaching colleagues, I developed surefire strategies to avoid it. These strategies may have not been super imaginative but they were reliable. For example, if I had 180 essay exams to grade, then I would realize that I NEEDED to vacuum the entire house. Or if I had a pile of research papers waiting to be read, then clearly it was time to wipe down all the wooden baseboards and trim with orange oil. The pattern was predictable. If you saw me hand-washing and polishing all the wine glasses then you knew that I had 62 primary source analysis projects to grade. I’d do almost any kind of cleaning to avoid the RED pencil!
But those were simpler times. These days, I’m not just avoiding grading. Now I fancy myself a “writer.” So I’m no longer simply sidestepping the moment when I must read students’ writing. I’m eluding my own. Deadlines approach and my mind fills with existential despair and a certainty that my writing (thus my life) has no real purpose. So now, procrastination must fill the hole created by a self-imposed crisis that grows deeper each day. And simple cleaning no longer suffices.
Or maybe I’m just lazy. I do like to just hang. So maybe ….
Nope. I’m sticking with existential crisis. Sounds more writer-like.
So back to my story of procrastination addiction. Among other things, I am currently writing a novel. I’m about 80-90% done with a good draft which means that it’s about time for that despair to start kicking in. I don’t have an agent or a contract so the only deadline I face is my own. (And the fact that it’s a timely kind of story in some ways so I’d like to get it out there into the world while we still have a world.) But the sight of a finish line (even if it’s self-imposed) fills me with a growing panic. Enter procrastination 2.0.
This version began this past weekend. My magazine assignment work was finished and submitted. (I always get these things done early. Mmmmm. Interesting. I wonder what Freud would say about that?) This meant that I had about three weeks I could devote almost entirely to working on the novel. So much writing could be accomplished! I just needed to make myself a cup of coffee and the writing could commence!!
But wait … my coffee cup is so stained on the bottom and sides that I’m not sure it it’s clean. How can I concentrate if I think I’m drinking from a tainted mug? Maybe I should hand-wash all the cups. There’s only six of them so that’ll just take a few minutes and then it’s time to WRITE! (I know this sounds like the tried-and-true cleaning strategy but just wait. It escalates.)
So out they all come. Soak in hot soapy water. Scrub. Scrub. Scrub. The stains won’t budge. And now I’m obsessing over another facet of the supposedly clean (albeit stained) mugs, which leads to the following conversation with my ever-loving always patient husband.
Me: “Is it just me or do they have a weird smell when you stick your noise in them?”
Spouse: “Uuh. I don’t usually stick my nose in the cup.”
Me: “then smell it” (as I aggressively stick the cup in his face)
Spouse: “Ummm. I don’t smell anything but if you do then …”
Me: “Can the coating on stoneware come off?
Spouse: “I don’t …”
Me: “Maybe we’re drinking mold!?”
Spouse: “I don’t …”
Me: “If it’s mold, it will make us sick!!”
Spouse: (Wisely responding) “I don’t know that it’s really mold but if you’re worried then we can always get new mugs.”
This leads to some random googling to determine if we can get sick drinking from the mugs if the coating has indeed worn off (no definitive answer found) interspersed with a search for new coffee mugs in “fun” colors. The unsuccessful google rabbit-hole search for “fun” colored mugs consumes minute after minute after hour so by the time I emerge it’s nearly noon.
So our plan for the rest of the day is now clear. We must go out for lunch and then maybe go by Bed, Bath & Beyond and look for new coffee mugs! I’ve got a stack of 20% off coupons waiting to be used! And oh yeh speaking of coupons, we have a coupon for 20% off at the wine store so maybe we should do that while we’re out too.
Fast forward to BB&B: found the perfect coffee mugs! Sturdy. Big handles. I like to be able to put my whole hand around the handle—none of those tiny little two-finger handles for me. Pretty colors. On sale. We only had six mugs before but maybe we should get eight of these? Sometimes I have to get one out of the dishwasher before it’s been run. This way, we’ve always got clean ones. Good plan. Or Nine! That’s three of each color. So yes. Nine it is. OK let’s go. But wait. Now that I’m here I’m realizing that I’m hosting book club next month and I’m not sure we have six wine glasses? Maybe we should get this box of four? They’re on sale. Plus coupons!
OK that crisis has been solved. One more stop at the wine store yields a case of wine (at 20% off!!) But by the time we finish all of this shopping the day is nearly gone. Too late to write today.
Plus I should check out one of these new bottles!
But tomorrow I’m on it!!
I’ve made myself a cup of coffee in one my new mugs. All is right with the world. Time to write. Well maybe first I should empty the dishwasher. I know. I know. I usually load and my loving spouse unloads but I’m standing right here and it will only take a minute. Wait. What? Oh no! We seem to have a bit of problem. These mugs are much bigger than the old ones and our cabinets are really small. I can only fit four of them in!!! And that’s not all—I can’t find any place to put these four new wineglasses!! Crisis!!!
Obviously I can’t write with this hanging over my head. Husband is looped into the new crisis. And once he understands the seriousness of the problem, we can proceed with the task at hand: a complete reorganizing of the cabinets. Everything must come out. Decisions must be made. Keep. Donate. Trash. This takes the better part of the midday so once again, it’s not really a good time to just get started. I’m really a morning person so I’m never going to be able to get into a good writing rhythm if I just start now.
Tomorrow. I will write tomorrow.
OK it’s tomorrow. Let’s go! But oh no I have a problem! I realize that I haven’t finished the book for Monday’s book club. I clearly can’t be that kind of club member. I’m a writer! (Plus I picked the book and must bring the discussion questions.)
So today I read. But tomorrow. Tomorrow I will write.
Another tomorrow. Oh wait I forgot that I’m getting my hair done today. If I start writing then I’ll just have to stop in mid-thought and I hate that! Plus I really need to spend time looking for suggestions for next month’s book club book.
But tomorrow. Tomorrow is THE DAY!
Morning has broken … and damn it’s pretty out there today. What? The spouse is going to the beach! No. I’ve got to write. Well… Wait. Maybe it will get my head in a good space if I got to the beach. A nice beach walk is good for the brain. Okay. I’m in.
But tomorrow. Tomorrow I will write a minimum of 1500 words! I will get through the next section. I will conquer!!
Tomorrow arrives early with a sore throat, cough, and a stuffy head. Bingo! I have procrastinated myself into a horrible horrible summer cold. Can’t breathe. Can’t think. Can’t write.
Maybe tomorrow. I’ll feel better tomorrow.
Four more tomorrows come and go. Still sick. No writing with this foggy brain.
A bright new tomorrow arrives. Feeling a bit better. Ok novel writing here I come. Ideas bubbling. Coffee brewing.
Mmmm? What about my blog? I haven’t posted anything in a week or so. I should check in. Visit some stuff I follow. Maybe post a haiku. Can’t let it sit idle too long. Right? Read. Read. Read. Oooo great haiku writing prompt—poison/past—I love it. (Side note: If you’re into haikus check out https://ronovanwrites.com/2018/09/03/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-poetry-prompt-challenge-217-poisonpast/)
OK that’s a sign. I’ll work on a haiku this morning and then get started on the novel. Hours pass. Haiku done. I like it! But I’m so tired. Being sick is exhausting. No more today. But …
Tomorrow. Tomorrow I AM getting back to the novel.
Tomorrow comes. The sun rises. My mind is clicking. Coffee brewed. MacBook open. Ready to open up the novel draft. Laughing to myself as I think about all the ways I’ve avoided it this last ten days or so. Wait a minute. Procrastination! That might make a slightly amusing blog post. But I promised I’d work on the book today! But this is kind a timely idea. If I work on the book and then write about procrastination will it feel authentic? I WILL have procrastinated on writing about procrastination—is that good enough to justify waiting?
OK. I’ll take a few minutes and jot down some ideas. BUT. TOMORROW!!!!
Tomorrow I write.
Unless … Oh no! There’s that saucy suspicion again!
How about y’all? Do you procrastinate? What’s your best method? Any ideas on how to avoid it?