I procrastinate for various reasons and there are different issues depending on what I am putting off. I know why I procrastinate when I need to do something like vacuum the house or organize paperwork. Sheer boredom and lack of interest.

When I was in college I had a conversation with a friend about waiting until the deadline to turn in a paper or application. That has to do with control. Until I actually submit whatever it is, I have control over it; I can still make changes to it or fantasize about what grade I’ll get or if I’ll get the job, but once it’s turned in, there’s no going back. That’s what it is about for me anyhow. I still see a deadline as the time it gets turned in. It’s a stretch for me to turn something in a few days in advance. Maybe I also like the thrill of working to a deadline!

There’s another more sinister procrastination that happens to me though. When I am working on a new piece of art like I’ve never made before or on a new technique, I can get paralysed with an insidious, grabs-me-by-the-wrists procrastination.

I feel like I have to figure it all out in my head and make it come out the right way before I can begin the work. So it will come out perfect. Which is nuts. Because a) there is no such thing as perfection, and b) it is the trial and error, the very imperfect process which creates the work. Duh! Why do I keep forgetting that?

I think this is one of those lessons that keeps circling back around from time to time.

These past few days, I’m working on my final entry into the Festival of Quilts and have been doing everything but working on my final entry into the Festival of Quilts.

Last week, I came face to beak with my inner critic. I sat with my bogged down, wrists-tied feeling and became aware of a big black, clawed, sharp-beaked bird sitting on my right shoulder. This guy actually looks a bit goofy, but note the sharp claws and beak.

Earlier this week, I was dithering around and not working and I consciously picked him up from my right shoulder, plucking his claws out of my skin and set him down in the corner of the room and said, ‘You can watch, but if I hear one peep out of you, I’ll put you in a cage and out a cloth over it. You’ll have to go to sleep like a canary”.

And I was able to get on with my work.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggests that an artist draw or make their Inner Critic and put it in their studio. I think it’s a really good idea. It gets that destructive voice out from the depths of the subconscious and into the light of day. Somehow that lessens the power it can have over our creative process.

Right now, I am taking a break after a three hour stretch of work in which I’ve figured out how to make the border on my Manhattan Angel quilt.

I’ve been wanting to work in 3D some more and I think my next project will be my inner (now outer) critic.

“The maxim ‘Nothing but perfection’ may be spelled ‘Paralysis'” buddhabuddhabuddhaWinston Churchill


6 thoughts on “Procrastination

  1. I really enjoy your blog. Funny how innocent and sweet the big, black crow looks when you draw it. I have got used to the alternating waves of satisfaction/elation and despair/disgust when I am quilt making. I can certainly never plan it all ahead or I would be bored stiff making it and would probably never finish.

  2. I, too, feel paralyzed by procrastination sometimes and tend work on everything, even distasteful housework and not on the project that has a deadline. Then I’m rushing to finish it on time. One thing I’ve learned about this holding pattern of mine is that what I produce I do like but can’t seem to stop the berating I give myself leading up to the finish.
    My only dilemma with drawing my inner critic is that I’d procrastinate too much about what it would look like and never get it done! hee hee

  3. What a great idea, to draw the inner critic, I will try to do the same.
    I think too that your bird looks like a nice little fellow…actually I like it, even it shouldn’t´t talk that way to you. But I am sure you can bring it up well!

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