Nov 25 – Avoidance Addiction

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Hiding in the flower pot by Ray Closson made available by Creative Commons license

Well.  I didn’t write on Thursday because it was, after all, Thanksgiving.  Family day.  Food and football.  Perfectly justifiable.  Then Friday rolled around and I felt I could still call it being on holiday, so to speak.  Then yesterday I spent much of the day giving myself reasons for putting off writing just one more day.

As I lay in bed last night, berating myself yet again for my eagerness to not write, I made a new connection.  A dear friend of mine is a recovering alcoholic and, while I don’t want to belittle the challenges inherent in that condition, my behavior reminded me of an alcoholic’s addiction.  My addiction is not for alcohol but for avoidance; as soon as I take one day off from writing, thinking “I can handle it – it’s just one day,” I find myself still not writing days later.

I have somehow made not writing a reward, a holiday, a special treat.  But I know in my heart that writing, communicating, expressing, creating – that is the real treat.  I read an article somewhere recently about the metaphors we make and how powerful they are in shaping our lives and our attitudes.  So, I need to change my metaphor for writing from duty to beauty, from a chore to let’s explore, from a weight to a date, from something to shun to nothing but fun.  (Please accept my profound apologies for that, but it was fun.)

The Power of Procrastination

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Photo by Crackpot Papercraft, made available by Creative Commons license.

Ha.  Fifteen minutes a day.  ha.  I am once again writing about how embarrassingly difficult I have made it for myself to sit down and write this blog.  I love writing it, I love thinking that someone out there is reading it, and yet it has been WEEKS since I came to this place to write.

It all started with a sinus infection (and may I be forgiven for all the years I dismissed the severity of that particular affliction in others) then it was Thanksgiving, then end of term and I was really too tired, too busy, and way too deeply in love with procrastinating (yes, my carpets are vacuumed, my dishes are clean, and my windows sparkle).

The weight of my procrastination guilt has helped me work with students struggling with similar “stuck-ness.”  One of my favorite tools to share with them is SARK‘s advice to start with “micro-movements”  – identify and complete a task that takes five minutes at  most.  Great advice, and often it helps, but in these past few weeks I needed something more.

I am currently reading her book Juicy Pens, Thirsty Paper  and have been lingering on the chapter about finding time and energy to create and write.  Her list of reasons for not sitting down and writing resonated deeply with me (“isn’t there something else to clean?”).  She then moved on to explain her solution – we have to write whether we feel like it or not.  Don’t wait to feel inspired before Isitting down to write.  “This means that we write infrequently, following gusts of inspiration, which arrive whimsically and less frequently than our action-taking energy.”

This concept of modifying behavior and not waiting to be led by feelings reminds me of C.S. Lewis.  He taught me that feeling love toward others is not nearly as important in the sight of God as is behaving with love, whether you feel it or not.  Seems like the same principle – behave as a writer, whether you feel it or not.  Write.

[You wouldn’t believe how much time I just spent looking for a powerful procrastination video I had seen on someone’s blog.  Didn’t find it, but found lots of others – may have students review them for some sort of project!  And then there was the turkey stock on the stove to be monitored, and the dishwasher to be emptied.  It’s a miracle this post exists.]