Friday, July 22, 2005

My Inner Demon

This summer, I have been continuously reminded of why I shouldn’t wait until the last minute….to do anything.
I’m a procrastinator in the first degree. When I was in school, I waited until the day before a final to study or to start on a research paper I should have been working on for a month.
Now that I’m an adult, we writers who have this malady like to say that we are “deadline driven.” That’s just the euphemism for what has always been wrong with us, for whatever reason, we procrastinate.
I’ve read the psycho babble mumbo-jumbo that writers do it (and I suppose others as well) because we are perfectionists and we’re so afraid our work won’t turn out perfect that we put it off as long as possible.
Whatever. The reason doesn’t help me with the disease.
All summer long I’ve known that I have until August 15, the drop dead last minute date to get my manuscript into the publisher so it can be printed and available at my book launch party on November 5. So, what did I try to do to trick my perfectionist procrastinator demon (everyone is blaming demons these days)? I gave it a date one month in advance of the drop-dead date.
I tried to plan my work well in advance. I laid out a calendar so I would have it all accomplished before leaving for a Chicago writer’s conference last week.
It didn’t work. That’s what I will be working on this weekend, and with any luck, I will have it out prior to the next weekend.
The same can be said for most of my assignments and my housework. While I usually can motivate myself to get my calls made, get the appointments set up and generally get most of my research and reporting done ahead of schedule, I am continuously so far behind, because I’ve put off other assignments, that I’m up until the last day finishing the actual writing.
This puts me in a bad spot when an editor calls and asks for a story ahead of schedule. I usually can’t accommodate them and I wish I could, because I would like to help them.
This also puts me in a bad spot when one of the furry ones we have running around gets sick, as happened this week with our 15-year-old Dacshund, Hershey. Hershey was so ill at the beginning of the week, her vet sent her home with a host of meds, IV’s and instructions “just to make her comfortable.” Of course, if she had passed rather than improved, I wouldn’t just be running up until the deadline date with editors, I would have been running well past, which is another reason I should try to work ahead.
I suppose a psychologist would say that is because I dread the inevitable with Hershey so much, I put off doing my work, hoping it won’t happen. But one day it will, and I hope I’m ahead enough in my work to be able to stop and grieve.
I’m tutoring a young girl this summer who has much of the same problem as me. However, she doesn’t put off writing because of some perfectionist demon within, she puts off her homework assignments because she hates it. She would much rather be with her friends and doing things all young people want to do in the summer. Given any homework, she would rather be doing square roots and analyzing scientific theory.
For most of our sessions I’ve tried to pound home that she shouldn’t wait until the last minute to finish her projects.
It’s time I took my own advice, although it will be harder to do with the housework.
We never know when we won’t be given the luxury of time.

3 Comments:

Blogger hooper2 said...

If nothing else, you are in good company with at least half of the world! As someone once said, "Thank goodness for the last minute; otherwise, nothing would ever get done."

As for housework, the only thing I know which works is to invite people (someone besides family and close friends) over for dinner - this always motivates me to clean!

3:01 PM CDT  
Blogger Redundant Redactor said...

Liked the way you wrote that!
Would have written this sooner, but just didn't get around to it....

11:03 AM CDT  
Blogger KCKOOL said...

now write your next column on "the luxury of time!"

12:47 AM CDT  

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