The Greatest Exercise in Procrastination
This text was the greatest exercise in procrastination for me. I planned to start writing regularly in January (not as a part of my new year’s resolutions, just a coincidence), and in the beginning of the month told one of my friends that I would write something that week. He asked whether I could start writing right away, at the very moment we spoke. I was frightened and puzzled as it felt hard to write not just for someone, but in front of someone’s face. We agreed that he would ask me about it in a week.
Today is the 16th of March. He asked 4 or 5 times (maybe more, and I can’t even express how grateful I am). I can’t say I just didn’t keep my promise and feel guilty, it is really something else. In those few months in which I was going to start writing “something”, my attitude to “something” changed. First, I thought it was better to start with study and science claims, then I wanted to revise my diary memories and share some details of my past, later I focused on work ethics and productivity issues. And I thought about even more topics that are very important to me. And the strangest thing about it was that I couldn’t just start writing. Take a laptop (I do it every day just after waking up), make myself comfortable (this I also do), open up my notes and start writing (and this too, because I keep record of various things or thoughts). But why was it so difficult to write? Having analyzed my own mistakes, I want to divide them into several types:
I thought writing something that you already have in your head is very easy.
No, it’s not easy at all. Though you seem to have a structure in your head, you can often see gaps in your argumentation and inconsistency of thoughts once you tell them to another person or write it down on paper. You can believe that you perfectly understand everything in your thoughts and it’s all properly aligned, but this is quite hard to achieve. A real-world expression of your thought allows you to see it from a different perspective. A similar argument applies to a personal diary (and psychotherapy) — it allows to see your problems from the side and reason in cold blood.
I thought that writing good texts is a hard and long process.
Yes, it is. It seems to take root in my writing experience mostly with academic texts, where finding the right argument that confirms or refutes your point or thinking about a sentence that accurately expresses an idea can take a lot of time. I tend to procrastinate when writing academic texts, since the most interesting part of the work (reading, experiments, analysis) has already been completed. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that now I am writing the text as my personal experience, and, in general, am not worried about its tidiness and integrity. Now for me the very fact (act) of writing a text speaks louder than its content, structure and grammatical structures.
I believed my thoughts were unoriginal.
Yes, maybe it’s true. Hence the fear of writing — Do others need it? But should this take away from me a chance to structure my thoughts and show them to another person who will look at them in a new way? Does it make me worse that what I write (and therefore think about) is something unoriginal? And, in general, how many of our thoughts are original? I can only get better because I understand myself better and get feedback. Also, something that we understand so well that it seems trivial and unimportant can end up being completely non-obvious for others (I spoke a lot about it with my friend whom I mentioned above and may give you a link).
I was looking for that very time and that very place to write.
And never found it. It is strange that for so long I consciously rejected attempts to write something (appearing mostly at bedtime, when I was already lying with my eyes closed, or in another situation that seemed uncomfortable to me). I shouldn’t have made up something very important from this, since it seems that no one is able to think on schedule.
I wanted to say everything.
And said nothing. I perceived the text about “something” as a comprehensive list of all thoughts that I had, have and will have about “something”. It sounds silly, but I was stuck with this when I had actually started to put my thoughts in order. But you don’t have to be afraid. In regular conversations, we express a lot of thoughts, which are often incomplete and untidy, but this doesn’t make them any less important. After all, the text is just my thoughts converted into words with some delay.
And yes, it was hard to overcome. But I should.