About Me

My photo
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.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Creativity and Procrastination

There are plenty of things that I procrastinate doing regularly. Bathrooms and dishes come to mind. But there are other things that I don’t really try to procrastinate and though I’m not quite sure why it always ends up appearing that way. Here’s the thing. When I have something creative to do, even if others wouldn’t see it as such, like preparing a lesson or writing a note of comfort, it takes me forever to settle on what needs to happen. When do I get my best ideas? Yep, you guessed it, right at the last possible moment.

My husband used to think I’d do this to him on purpose. I’d know about a project for weeks, putz around with it and at ten o’clock on the night before it’s due I suddenly hit on just exactly the right thing to say or do. Then I’m up all night and imposing upon him to help me race to the finish line.

I promise it’s not on purpose. I’d been thinking and plotting the entire time. Sometimes I think it’s the Lord’s sense of humor coming through. No matter how much I discuss things with Him, no matter how much the task rolls around in my brain, no matter how often I sit down to put pen to paper, the real inspiration comes not a moment before it’s absolutely needed. I think He likes to watch me scramble and mutter under my breath like a crazy woman. I must admit it’s sometimes a very funny sight.

When it comes time for me to write the next Primary curriculum I only have a few weeks (six if I’m lucky) to write and polish the entire book. I manage to do it every time. When it’s all over I’m tired but still exhilarated by what I’ve done. I tell myself, “Now, do that three times a year and you might actually get half way through your writing to-do list before you die.” It never really happens because there is no deadline breathing down my neck for that to do list to get done.

I love the way creativity affects me. I love knowing that my thoughts, actions and words are being guided by someone greater than I. I love making something that will inspire and uplift people around me, so why can’t I do that more often than I do? It’s got to be some twisted form of procrastination. I suspect many creative people feel the same way, I’ve heard many an author proclaim that they need, or work best, with a deadline. My quandary seems to be about the same thing.

So, how do I separate the deadline from the creativity? How do I impose my own deadlines and have my creativity actually listen to me? There is so much more that I know I’m capable of creating, but until someone external to myself says, “Do it, I need it by Tuesday.” I fight with myself, toss ideas around, type a few words, try a few projects but never really get very far.

Maybe there is an element of self-doubt to the whole thing as well. Until it comes down to it and someone is counting on me I don’t have enough internal confidence to trust myself to come up with something wonderful.

I’m not sure what it is, or how to solve it. I just know I wish it would stop it already, I have projects and ideas I want to see through for no one other than myself and I can’t seem to find the self-discipline to set a deadline that my creativity will think I’m serious about. So I end up looking and feeling like the worlds greatest procrastinator. Some how I need to become the master of my creativity, not the other way around. But I fear that breaking it and bending it to my will would also break its spirit giving it parameters and barriers it should not have.

What a quandary. Somebody give me an urgent deadline. I have things I need to get written.


Candace E. Salima said...

Alison, you always present such a unique perspective on things! Thank you, we must be long lost sisters.

Marcia Mickelson said...

I do things a lot last minute too. Hope you get everything done for the Primary book with at least a few minutes to spare.

Alison Palmer said...

Candace, I'd be proud to be your long lost sister!
Marcia, thanks for the well wishes-it's always nice to know I'm not alone in my ideosyncrasies.