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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Not Done Yet Syndrome

The Navajo Indians have a tradition. It's basically planned imperfection. In their handiwork, it their life's work, they purposely place pieces of imperfection. They believe that God is the only one who is perfect.

I think I must have something similar to that going on in my own life. I suffer from what I call "Not Done Yet" syndrome. Basically, my life is full of half-done projects.

I first began to recognize this problem when I re-married. My husband was the neat freak of the two of us and I was happy to let him clean. Then came the fateful day when the honeymoon was over and he asked me why it was so difficult to "just put things away when you're done with them". My retort? I wasn't done yet.

Many years later I still have the same problem. My husband came behind me several weeks ago and put away the fabric I had sitting in our bay window for over a month. It was meant to be the new covers on the back of my dining room chairs. I had redone the seats, but the backs required me to cut new wooden forms. The material sat there.

As he is carrying it back down to my sewing room I’m haughtily protesting: "I'm not done with that yet!" He looked at me and said "Do you realistically think you're going to be done anytime in the next month?" Ok, he was right.

So what is it? Do I over commit myself so that I can justify switching gears with minimal guilt, leaving tons of half finished projects in my wake? Do I just subconsciously fear that what I'm doing will never turn out right any way and I won't have to admit it if I never finish?
I'm asking these questions because I face the same problems with my writing. I have so many things I'd like to write, yet I find myself procrastinating and putting things on the "not done" shelf. Why is that really? Even with this BIAM I'm facing the same type of dilemmas. Last night I was so close to meeting my word count I got a little arrogant and put it aside to meet other obligations before meeting my goal. I was very sure I'd be able to squeeze in a few more words before bed. I refused to post my numbers because I wasn't "done yet". Did I ever get back to it? Nope.

I'm doing it again right now. I just had to get the words to this blog out of my head before I could start working on my WIP. Want to lay any bets on what my word count will be tonight? Um, then again maybe we'd better not discuss it. I swear, I'm not done yet!

I love being a writer. I love to see what comes through the conduit from my brain to my fingers. Still, I sit down to write and there is always something holding me back. I think if I can find the root of my "Not Done Yet" problem, I'll also find the key to free myself to write better and faster. I'll be freeing myself to dream bigger and maybe, just maybe, I'll see the end of some of those dreams.

4 comments:

Tristi Pinkston said...

I think we try to put too much on our plates. We're conditioned to think that we're supposed to be getting all this stuff done, and in reality, it's just too much. We need to slow down and just take life one step at a time.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

I feel your pain, Allison. I have the exact same problem.

Good advice, Tristi. I shall try.

ali said...

Hi Allison, I enjoyed your blog! I loved the way you painted the picture of your hubby cleaning up after you and you, well, you're not done yet!

I second Tristi's perspective. Good luck!

Alison Palmer said...

I really do try to take one step at a time, but have you ever noticed when you have some place really important to go "somebody" keeps throwing things under you feet as soon as the leave the ground?
As always, Tristi, I bow to your wonderful wisdom.