Procrastination is the theme of this week’s blogs. Seems appropriate since I have procrastinated writing this blog. Of course, I’ve procrastinated a lot of times in the past year or so, haven’t I? Even when it hasn’t been obvious, I’ve probably procrastinated. Procrastination is a part of my being. I can’t seem to get away from it. No matter how I berate myself or attempt to establish better routines or struggle with this issue, I can’t seem to eliminate procrastination from my life.
I’m learning during this season of my life the need to re-evaluate how I view myself. I’m combatting negative voices, inside and out, that have a grain of truth to them. That makes them vicious if I don’t spend time evaluating them with a dose of truth and reality. All these years I’ve heard and believed that procrastination is wrong, never useful, something to be rooted out and destroyed. Those times procrastination worked to my advantage were flukes. Or so I was told. Now I’m not so sure. Yes, there are negatives to procrastination. We all know that. Tasks remain undone, projects falter or fail, opportunities are missed. Life is difficult on so many levels when we procrastinate. That is fact.
Like any tool, though, it can be used. A drill can make holes for bolts or destroy a beautiful piece of furniture. A baseball bat is useful for hitting softballs across a field or even as a weapon to thwart a burglar. In the hands of that burglar, though, it is a tool of destruction. Fire, when controlled is a source of heat and light. When uncontrolled, it kills and destroys. Water is another source of life that we can’t live without, but out of control and overabundance of water is destructive. Like fire, water, or any tools we might use, procrastination can be wielded in ways that enable and increase productivity or damage and destroy it.
As you may remember, I am back in college, attempting to earn a degree in design and technology. Over the past two semesters I’ve procrastinated on several assignments. Sometimes because of time constraints, but often because I lacked inspiration or confidence. Like the resume I had to write, but couldn’t figure out how to present my non-traditional experience and skill sets. (I’m a college student, but older. I’m older, but haven’t worked in the workplace for 25+ years. I haven’t worked in the workplace, but I have lots of experience and skills that are marketable.) Or the PowerPoint presentation where I almost took too long to choose a topic. I may talk about these and more in the coming weeks as they illustrate some major breakthroughs in the way I view myself and my creative process. Those and others were instrumental in helping me realize procrastination can be a useful, if potentially dangerous tool.
I’m taking an English Composition class. It’s required as a general course for my degree. I could have chosen to CLEP out of it, but I’m hoping it will jump-start my desire to write, which seems to be in a coma. (Or has it flat-lined? I guess I’ll find out this semester.) In Monday’s class, the instructor reviewed how best to write an in-class essay. Namely, the importance of pre-writing. He demonstrated webbing, aka mind-mapping or clustering. (Here’s a blog I wrote on mind-mapping.) During the lecture, he stressed that pre-writing was the backbone of a composition. The more pre-writing is done, the faster and easier the writing flows.
I know this, but I balk at it. Not because I don’t believe it, but because I tend more toward freewriting as my style of brainstorming/pre-writing. (He presented that as a valid method of pre-writing for at-home papers, but not for in-class essays.) However, he’s right. I need to utilize a better pre-writing method for the in-class essays he assigns. It may even help with my personal writing. Toward that end, I decided to experiment. I used the pre-write/write/re-write method he suggested to prepare this blog post. First, I mind-mapped my thoughts. After doing that, I organized them (loosely) into a plan. Only then did I start writing.
While I ended up with something a little different from the pre-writing plan I envisioned, it is not drastically different. I did fudge a bit on his instructions, moving into writing before completely finished with pre-writing. (My style of using the freewriting method to gather thoughts/plan is ingrained pretty deep.) I’m also not sure where I finished writing and moved into rewriting. Those two steps seemed to happen simultaneously. However, I wrote this in the 1 ½ hours I had between two classes. I then spent another 15 minutes after class revising and polishing before I uploaded it to the website. If I’d written this over the weekend instead of procrastinating, I would still have come up with a reasonably written article. If I’d not procrastinated, though, I would not have this example to share and it would have taken me approximately an extra hour to complete.
Procrastination. Maybe it’s time to embrace this monster.