Throughout my school, college and university days I perfected the art of procrastination. I excelled at postponing homework, coursework, dissertations, projects and revision until the last possible moment. Generally this led to a horribly angst-ridden last minute panic and I still have a recurring nightmare about sitting my A Level exams knowing that I had done the bare minimum to scrape by. Once I started working I became far more controlled and focused on completing work within defined time frames and without a last minute panic. This is undoubtedly a necessity in the advertising and PR world where clients will often chuck in a last minute curveball or bring forward a deadline so you need to stay ahead of the game and be highly organised.
Now that I am not working and not in a pressured environment where if you let things slip you will unleash the fury of your client and your boss, I am rediscovering my talent for procrastination. I'm not enjoying this foray back in time to teenage me, it makes me feel restless and angry with myself. While I have time on my hands I feel I should be making huge in roads into my novel, blogging regularly and doing all the pre-course reading and studying for my course. Instead, in the past couple of weeks I have crawled my way through my pre-course studying, made pitiful progress with my novel and hardly blogged at all. I have been trying to work out what has caused me to put on the brakes and revert to me aged 18.
Excuse No.1 : Recently we have had a few visitors which has disrupted the routine I had developed and as each visitor has left, I have found it harder and harder to re-establish my daily rhythm.
Excuse No. 2: I have attended a variety of writers' events and critique groups which have made me question my writing abilities and quelled my enthusiasm for writing. Many of the writers I have met are academics, developing cleverly crafted literary work. I am neither academic nor writing anything worthy of a Booker Prize nomination, and I have felt embarrassed reading my light-hearted puerile prose to them for critique. As a result I have struggled to put pen to paper while I internally wrestle with myself as to the exact point of turning my back on my established career to do something I may not even be any good at.
Excuse No. 3: In the past I know I have deliberately filled every moment of my day, fearful of stopping to give myself time to face up to feelings of discontent. Maybe I'm no longer scared to stop so with a sigh of relief I've pulled on the handbrake at last.
Today, I have vowed that there will be no more excuses and the procrastination will end. The visitors have stopped, so my routine can be reinstated. So what, if my novel isn't high-brow, some people like light literature and I will learn from the academics to make it as well-written as possible. And does it really matter if I've stalled for a couple of weeks, it is only me telling myself I 'should' be doing more that has created this angst. So this is my first step to putting a stop to procrastination.