I’ve become a world-class procrastinator—I can do something else better than anyone anywhere. I’ve passed amateur status and have just recently gotten my professional standing. Don’t even try to take me on this one, I’ll beat the socks off you every time.
For instance, today, I procrastinated beautifully about doing the rest of the weeding and cutting back the flowers. I found something more important to do (read “work on my novel” here) until it was time to start supper. The to-do list was really pretty short today—yard work, cleaning the two and half bathrooms in my house, doing the last load of laundry, and ironing. Did any of those chores get done? Nope. However, the cleaning supplies are sitting on the vanity in the upstairs hallway bath, the laundry basket made it to the top of the washing machine, and it’s still not too late to iron…hmmmm.
There was a time when I didn’t procrastinate. Unlike a lot of really good procrastinators, I haven’t been this way my whole life. In fact, it’s a fairly recent phenomenon. It wasn’t that many years ago that I got up each morning armed with a plan. My to-do list was extensive and things got checked off as I merrily worked, taking pride in the fact that I could accomplish so much when there were only twenty-four hours in a day.
Beds were made, floors were scrubbed, furniture was dusted, cupboards were filled with healthy food, and the house was always tidy. Husband never came home to a living room cluttered with Son’s toys—nope, we had clean-up time every afternoon at 4:30 pm, complete with a cutesy little song that I used to encourage the kid to help me put away the playthings. Son’s little freckled face was scrubbed, supper was on the table, and I was put together, hair done, make-up applied. All that was missing were the apron and the pearls.
Tonight, when husband came home, I was in the back yard, scrubbing the birdbath, which was nasty beyond words because the last time I’d scrubbed it was…um…a long time ago. I’d happened to notice it when I was out in the yard, not weeding or deadheading, but rather taking a break from my writing. Cleaning the birdbath actually felt kinda virtuous, even though it was the first time I’d stepped away from my keyboard all day, the breakfast dishes were still in the sink, and I hadn’t even thought about supper.
Unshowered, disheveled, hair falling into my face, and clad in the yoga shorts and white tank top I’d had on when the poor guy left for work, I was running dialogue in my head for chapter 13 of the book that’s in revision, while I scraped green goo from the birdbath. And yeah, okay, as he sauntered onto the patio, I was talking to myself—well, I wasn’t actually talking to myself, my characters were talking to each other. And that’s what’s really at the root of the procrastination—the novels.
Lately, it seems that on days I don’t have an editing gig going (I try never to procrastinate about work), everything has taken a back seat to writing—laundry, cleaning, yard work, grocery shopping—all the things I’d taken such pride in once upon a time have been set aside as I release the people in my head. Now, I sit at the computer for hours, forgetting to eat lunch, ignoring the phone, typing furiously as those insistent characters pound at the door of my mind.
So here’s the question, mes amies. Is it okay to blame the need to write for not getting anything else accomplished during the day? Should I wear the badge proudly? Have the t-shirt made: “Writer = Procrastinator”? Tell folks who ask what I’m doing, “I’m writing, as in I’m not doing [fill in the blank here, weeding, cleaning, laundry…}”? Or do I allow myself to feel guilty because the world in my head often takes precedence over the world I actually live in?