art of procrastination

The Art of Procrastination! Day 20 of Build Creative Confidence

Are you a master procrastinator? Deadline driven? Wait until the last possible moment to get things done? Are you wondering what procrastination has to do building creative confidence? Yes, yes, yes and everything would be my answers to these four questions. The art of procrastination is an ancient and well-loved art. Procrastination can be a killer for those of us called to the creative life!

If this is your first time visiting my blog, I am currently writing a 31 day series on building creative confidence for the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I thought if I created a series, gave it a number and a focus, it would help me stay on task and get posts done daily… alas, I fell off the proverbial wagon and am still chasing it down the dirt road, trying not to fall into the deep, dusty ruts of my daily life.

Steven Pressfield, author of the War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your inner creative battles, writes “Turning pro is a mindset. If we are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, we’re thinking like amateurs. Amateurs don’t show up. Amateurs crap out. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.”

While you may not be interested in being a pro-writer, artist or whatever, we (ahem, I mean me…) can learn something from Pressfield. If we are genuinely trying to build our creative confidence and enhance the context of our life through our own unique creative expression, we need to stop acting like amateurs. If you look at Pressfield’s quote closely, you will notice that he is discussing our mindset! Mastering our mindset is a crucial step towards creative confidence. How you perceive your own ability to create is 90% of the battle, once you accept that you, too, are creative, the rest is easy.

Procrastinating takes a variety of insidious forms. In my case, I had other work to get done first and let my blogging slide to the bottom of my to-do list. Before I knew it, I was too tired or it was time to make dinner… I took a walk or played in my craft room instead of getting that weekend post written. I have a long list of reasons (excuses) for why I am writing the 20th post on the 22nd day of the challenge. It wasn’t for lack of inspiration, I have a list of topics a mile long. I simply didn’t show up! Yikes.

How often is procrastination an excuse used to cover up fear of success?

When I read Pressfield’s quote it gave me pause. Where else in my life am I acting like an amateur and not a professional? I love Pressfield’s book The War of Art. It’s an easy read full of kick in the pants advice on how to get unstuck and get your creativity flowing consistently. In fact, I’d rather read his book than take his advice… reading is one of my favorite forms of procrastination for not writing. Here’s a picture from the corner of my craft table featuring half a dozen different projects in process, including my to-do list for my business and coaching practice.

build creative confidence

Many of us claim to be procrastinators when the truth is, we are afraid to take the next step towards expressing our creative genius. Is fear stopping you from taking a painting class? Writing kick ass sales copy for your next webinar? Recording that song you wrote and sharing it on YouTube?

Your lesson for Day 20 is to take a look at WHY your procrastinate!

There is a reason why Nike’s famous tagline “Just do it” sticks and why they chose pro athletes to represent their products – there’s no room for amateurs, excuses or procrastination.

I can hear your thoughts, “I thought we were talking about art not sports!” If you watch any professional sports you will know that there is an art to what they do and a great deal of creativity. Plus, if you look at the writings or extensive painting collections of famous authors and painters, you will see the amount of time and intensity they spent perfecting their craft, just like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. Read about Hemingway or Picasso and you will see that they were fanatical about the amount of time they spent daily on their craft.

The Art of Procrastination – How artistic are you?

We can be very creative when it comes to procrastination. Maybe creating some awareness about when and why you are procrastinating will help you stop acting like an amateur dabbling in life and help you turn pro.

Tools needed:

  • Honesty
  • Journal or blank paper
  • Pen
  • A project you are putting off

Okay, here’s the rub – if you are not being honest with yourself about why you procrastinate, nothing will ever change. So come on, grab your pen and paper and start writing.

1. What projects cause you to procrastinate the longest?

2. Why do you procrastinate? Think carefully about your answer. Look at the feelings or fears that are layered beneath your desire to put projects off.

3. What activities do you to do to fill all the time you are procrastinating? Are you really enjoying those activities? Or are you just wasting time?

4. Now, look at a project you are putting off currently and ask yourself – what’s the big deal? Make a list of all the excuses, fears or reasons you can think of and WRITE them down in ink on a piece of paper. Are they viable excuses? Or are you hiding behind fear?

5. Finally, when you are clear about the WHY, ask yourself – is it worth it to keep procrastinating? If the answer is yes, okay, so be it. If the answer is no, make a list of baby steps you can take to move you forward and ask a friend or spouse to help hold you accountable.