The best way to get something done is to begin. - Author Unknown
I’ve been rather adept lately at avoiding two major projects that really should have been completed by now. Though one has to do with housework and the other with writing, I was struck by their similarities.
The first project is my bedroom closet. I open my closet door with the intent of going in and conquering the mess, then I step back, close the door and convince myself I’ll take care of it later. Later to me means sometime in the next millennium. I know the job will start slowly. I’ll refold a top, put a dress in a Goodwill stack, another in a discard stack. Then there’s a move-to-the-dresser stack, I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with pile, and on and on until I reach a point where I’ll have so many heaps scattered around that the house will look as if a bomb exploded. My rational side knows that if I stick with it, there will come the point where the piles begin to decrease and the house comes together again. My surroundings will once again be neat and my closet orderly. In other words, it will be worth the effort if I can only make myself take that first step.
The second task is editing my latest manuscript. I sit down with good intentions and place my fingers on the keyboard as though I’m a concert pianist about to begin a performance. I can’t back out and close the door like I do with my closet, so I play a game of solitaire, visit a few blogs, think up something to ‘research’ on the internet and anything else I can come up with to procrastinate (anything besides cleaning the closet, that is). It’s all because I know it has to get worse before it can get better.
I’ll start off slow by adding or deleting a few commas and correcting minor errors and the next thing I know the manuscript is in shambles. This scene needs to come earlier; that chapter has no point; this area needs more action; that character cries too much; this character is too emotionless. I’ll end up with stacks and piles everywhere and a manuscript that looks like it was written in red rather than black.
Thinking about it makes me want to scream and say forget it—the original is fine. Yet deep down I know if I stick with it, at some point all those stacks will all come together and blend into a product I can be proud of writing.
Writing this post has been a sort of pep talk to myself. So now that I’ve confessed to the world that my closet is a mess and I’m one of the world’s greatest procrastinators, I’m taking a deep breath and I’m diving in – to my manuscript that is, not the closet (I do have priorities and I’ve lived with the closet in chaos this long). I needed reminding that it’s the sense of accomplishment that makes this task (or any job) worth the effort it takes to complete it.
Do you jump into a project the moment you see something needs to be done or do you procrastinate? What keeps you motivated to finish a task?
Thank you all for your comments and guesses on my blog about truth and lies. I explained I was not a good liar and many of you verified the fact. The one lie was that I am the middle child of eight girls. Actually my only sibling is my big sister. Jan M. was the first to guess that this was the lie. Joanne and Ann verified that math was not my strong point either by pointing out that eight doesn’t have a middle. Yes, A.K., I did drive while wearing a ghutra, but I don’t recommend it. Helen, Arlee and Patricia, the shrimp was small and a delicacy of a certain area of Taiwan. I didn’t want to offend our host, so I swallowed the shrimp whole. Because I visualized the eyes moving down my throat, I immediately gulped a whole glass of beer. And, just to clear the record, it was a miscommunication that caused me to congratulate my Taiwanese landlord on his mother’s death. I thought he was inviting us to her birthday party, not her funeral.
Thanks for stopping by today. Hope to see you again next Monday.
Tags: procrastination, editing, closets,