Just about every morning, I wake (naturally–it’s just when my body is ready to get up) around 5:30, stumble downstairs, drink some water, then grab my coffee and head to my computer, after being careful not to trip over the cat in the predawn darkness. And then I
get right to work and don’t move until I’ve finished my daily word count look at email, maybe check on what happened in the world (though less so lately as its too painful).
Finally, I get to work. I plug in brain.fm, which helps me ignore the cats and husbands wandering around the house,, and go to it. And I’m pretty good at sticking with it (with lots of breaks for more coffee and water) until I’ve reached my word count. Which, over the past month, since I did Nanowrimo, was 2,000 words a day. (And yes, I did finish! I hit 50,047 words on November 30.)
But, yeah, that’s the perfect world. Which doesn’t always happen, alas. Here’s what happened one morning last week: I woke earlier than normal because of a stomach ache, and went back to doze on the couch for a few minutes. Then I smelled coffee, went and grabbed some, and stumbled to the computer. Which, when I woke it up, was open to a page I really wanted to read. So I did. Despite knowing better. Which set the tone for reading even more when I went over to my inboxes. And then one thing led to another..and pretty soon, well you can guess what happened.
Yep, I’d waste my entire morning writing session. Because I had to read about the fires in Gatlinburg (which are so tragic. The resort I’ve stayed at there several times burned to the ground. Scroll down on that link to see photos of the Westgate.) And check on the latest political news. And then I decided, smugly, that today just wasn’t a good writing day and what I really should do is make notes for some business visioning I’ve been doing. But by that time, all I ended up doing was confusing myself. And I gave up and went to eat breakfast.
But, here’s the deal: this bout of procrastination set the tone for the whole day, and I struggled to pull myself back to my focus. Also, I felt like crap (mentally and emotionally). I felt edgy and out of sorts, and besides that I wasted a lot of energy beating myself up.
And the truth is, I could have avoided the whole mess, just by being aware of my own creative rhythms. Because truth be told, I needed a break. I had been writing hard all of November and doing a lot of other work, too. (Okay, so planning the next France retreat over wine at Noble Rot is maybe not hazardous duty, but still.) When I first started my procrastination spiral, I might have been able to figure this out and rather than click through internet stories and ads for sales, I could have done something intentional. Something that would have fed my creativity instead of making me feel bad about myself. Like taking a walk. Or stepping away from the computer and reading a book. Or spending some time organizing my office. Or repair to the living room and knit.
But I didn’t. But next time this happens, I’ll try to catch myself mid-stream and nip the spiral in the bud. (Let’s see, did I mix enough metaphors there?)
Being conscious and mindful of your creative rhythms can be oh so helpful. And then allow yourself to do what you need to do to sustain a writing practice over the long haul. And if that means stepping away from the computer, for the love of God, let yourself do it.
Do you procrastinate? (Is that question akin to asking, do you breathe?) How do you prevent it or deal with it afterwards? Please do share in the comments.
Photo by levi_suz.