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Creativity requires us to cultivate our procrastination, not reject it.

(Image: Me, roughly 15 years after learning to write. Just finished a degree in English Literature. All dressed up and nowhere to go, literally. I had published not a single word outside of a classroom, but this was 1990, before the internet. Was there such a time?)

My second takeaway from writing projects is that… Creativity requires us to cultivate our procrastination, not reject it. (Part of the ‘3 for Me’ project by @AmyBurvall)

I had always assumed that procrastination is a devilish state of being, just a step above throwing away good food – waste, waste, waste. However, just like all other physical responses, our brains do things for a reason. I tired of thinking about my PhD in the very early stages. I could have cleaned my room, but decided to start writing a novel, or at least the first chapter of a story that I had been talking about with my daughters on our evening dog walks. It seemed so much more interesting than a literature review of discourse patterns in International Baccalaureate classrooms, as surprising as that may seem. I was on a timeline and had to get my literature review done. Writing the first chapter of a yet to be named story at that specific time was pure procrastination folly, but my brain was telling me that I needed a break from academic literature. After writing the chapter, I needed a break from fiction and it felt great to get back to a world of pretend facts. My brain was telling me that I needed a break. I bounced back and forth like this for about five years, reveling in my productive procrastination. My room was only cleaned when I became completely desperate and needed a break from them both. I think that we need a small bank of diverse creative work to continue with, so that we can cultivate our procrastination like this. Trust your brain. You’re never so focused on one thing, as you are when you’re trying to avoid another. We know this. Select a few interesting projects. Jump around, but keep coming back. Procrastinate, and be productively proud of it.

(29 June, 2015)

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