We have met the enemy

and he is us.

Or more accurately, he is our procrastination.

There is so much we could do – so much we want to do, that we never get around to. Like the apostle Paul, we don’t do what we do want to do, and we do what we don’t.

St. Paul Escape from Damascus

Housework, for example. How much housework — expressed as a proportion of the whole — is done annually by people who are only doing it to avoid doing something else?

Of course, some of this procrastination is necessary development time for ideas, but sooner or later the idea is sufficiently ripe and must be harvested, or it never becomes anything more.

We want to write.

We love having written.

Sometimes we even enjoy the process of writing, but the actual sitting-down-to, the sacrificing of all the other things we could be doing (no matter how unpleasant) doesn’t appeal. Not close up. From a distance, the allure is strong enough, but by the time opportunity finally arrives, it has palled.

And so we put it off. There’s always another day.

The other enemy (or so we tell ourselves) is time. There simply isn’t enough of it to go around.

In fact, unless you are one of the modern madwomen who attempt to work full time, raise children, keep the house in order, have a social life and a creative life all in the twenty-four hours per day allotted to us ordinary mortals, you probably do have some time. Possibly not much, but some.

Carnaval (52) - 03Feb08, Paris (France)

If you are one of those women, you have my respect — for your industriousness, if not your sense — but you will never have from me that sincerest form of flattery: imitation.

Ergo, I have some time in my day(s) which I am not using for writing, because I am: using it for something else, wasting it on nothing much, sleeping through it (a popular option) or – and this is the part I have yet to understand – just not writing in it.

Wastage can be minimized, priorities can be rearranged, sleep can be (grudgingly) foregone – but how do you fight the absence of something? How do you fight not-doing? How, in short, do we defeat our own procrastination?

There are multifarious theories as to why we procrastinate, most of which seem to centre around our fear of a) discovering we are enormously talented or b) discovering we aren’t.

So is courage the missing ingredient? Or a ego-defying absence of investment in whether what we do is any good? Or (as with so many things) is it simply a lack of self-discipline that lets us weasel out of sitting down to a task that we may not, at that precise moment, enjoy?

To be honest with you, I am not so much concerned with the psychology of it as with finding out how to beat it.

To that end, this blog; a form of accountability if you will – and only if you will, because as the Caped Gooseberry pointed out, accountability does not work if there is no-one to be accountable to.

In return, I hope to offer you entertainment, encouragement, and whatever I may learn along the way. And should you also be tired of procrastination’s clammy embrace, then by all means, sharpen your pen.

6 Replies to “We have met the enemy”

  1. Pingback: Sinistra Inksteyne
  2. I know, I know, I’m two years late, but I’m just now catching up and I love this. 🙂 I love the word pictures and the fact that you used “multifarious.” 🙂 I’m so with you – I don’t write for anything but my blog, but there are so many ideas swirling around and never getting written, even though I have time I’m not writing in…

    1. Always happy to have comments! I’ve got one of those lists of blog-posts-I-mean-to-write-but-haven’t-written-yet too. And the better the idea, the longer it takes to get around to writing it – fear of not doing it justice? I don’t know…

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