Procrastination has always been a weakness. Thank goodness the internet and social media didn’t exist in its current form when I was in college. I would have been back home in Texas before the first blizzard buried my Chicago campus.
While I still procrastinate on projects, I like to think my methods of stalling have at least become more productive. Sometimes it’s a Law and Order marathon, but more often than not, the rabbit hole I plummet down can be helpful, if not also superfluous, in completing the task.
On my way to finally starting this blog, one procrastination tactic, a six-week online writing class, was especially valuable in kick-starting my writing. I opted for a more general writing course rather than a blog-specific one in case a hidden novelist was inside of me waiting to be unleashed. There was not.
Still, I gleaned many improvements for my writing. And while I am not the next Hemingway, it was fun experimenting with fiction through characters and dialogue. Most importantly, I was actually putting fingers to keyboard and writing something.
But the biggest benefits were the self-reflection exercises. The ones that made me think—and then of course write—about why the hell I was doing all of this anyway.
One particular assignment had us listen to the critical voices in our head from throughout our life telling us all of the reasons we can’t pursue a dream like writing. I was skeptical, thinking I already figured out the twist ending and obviously the biggest critic is oneself. And for me, that was in fact the case.
But it was what that critical voice was telling me that caught my attention.
But you have a job to focus on!
You don’t have time to write!
You have kids now, dreaming time is over!
And the loudest: Wanting to write is SILLY. Grow up.
Yikes, internal voice. Harsh, much?
But the problem is that I think I believe it. I remember in 9th grade I told some classmates that I wanted to write song lyrics when I grew up. A student said that sounded like something you say when you are a little kid, like being a professional athlete or famous actress. And while that classmate was correct that I would “grow out” of that particular desire, the sentiment of her comment still resonates with me. That wanting to write is silly.
Certain goals and aspirations have a shelf life. Some dreams remain just dreams and that’s okay (and I really do believe that’s okay).
Still, others keep popping up, forcing their way into your thoughts, your feelings, and into that little journal you keep in a nightstand drawer. The internal voice calls it silly. And I’m still listening. But it’s time to shut it up. I can only do that by writing. No more procrastinating and giving into the critic, just doing.
Besides, “silly” has its place. I have actually accomplished my pipe dream of being a songwriter through some pretty silly songs I’ve crafted for my babies. And while they laugh just as hard at me as they do at a picture of a balloon, those giggles are the most important voices in my head.