“Fuck It” or A Treatise on Procrastination

Psych! This isn’t a treatise. Who writes those anymore, anyway?

It will deal with the subject of procrastination, however,  a topic that was crammed into my brain pan after reading the latest post by Ms. Honesty.

Like any other human being on the planet, I’ve fallen victim to procrastination again and again. It was a way of life in college–I’d write essays the morning they were due. Not just 2-5 page ditties but 20+ page symphonies.

Fortune cookie procrastination

This habit has seeped into (or perhaps originated in?) other areas of my life: household errands, appointments with doctors, paperwork.

Oh, and finishing my novel . . .

My weapons against procrastination tend to be twofold:

1) external motivation (“motivation” can be replaced with nagging, threats of violence, or being disowned, depending on who is involved) or

2) Fuck it

Now, the first is one that we’re all familiar with. You put off doing the dishes long enough, and you will get a bit of external motivation from your spouse, parents, or child services.

The second, however, is a different beast. It involves abandoning all types of inhibitions, rationalizations, and poor excuses.

It is the purest expression of internal motivation that I know of, and it goes something like this.

I want to write 2,000 words today. But, I also want to watch a movie, read a book, play a videogame, call up a friend, eat a cheesestick, anything BUT what I know I really should be doing.

So I sit and weigh the benefits of writing those 2,000 words: I’ll have a few pages of my novel done, so I’ll be closer to editing it and publishing it and making tons of money (I didn’t say they were realistic benefits).

But I still feel the pull of those other things, particularly the cheesesticks in my fridge– I tend to eat them slowly, sinewy string by string. It’s a process.

That’s when my final defense kicks in. It’s an overwhelming sense that I should just do it. In my mind, I keep saying “fuck it, just do it.” No reasoning, no cost/benefit analysis. Just get up from my seat, pull up my Word document, and write. I then think of each of my body parts moving. “Fuck it, just pick up your feet, put your ass in your chair, and type.” I keep saying it until I feel a kind of involuntary tingling or twitch in my limbs, and when it becomes unbearable, I get up and just do what I should.

There’s no voodoo, no multi-step program, no affirmation necessary. It’s a silent prayer that starts with “fuck it” and ends with me writing.

But what about you guys? What do you do to beat procrastination? If you don’t procrastinate, then what does godhood feel like?



11 comments on ““Fuck It” or A Treatise on Procrastination

  1. I have to just decide to do it. I’ll make a memo on my phone that alarms, set aside a time, set an alarm, and write until time runs out (I will be doing this tomorrow in order to get somethings accomplished).

    • I remember a few months ago when you first started using alarms to write. Has that been working out well for you? I tried it before, and it seemed to work pretty damn well. Not sure why I stopped . . .

      • It does help when I use it. I always end up continuing to write even after the alarm goes off. It helps me really get work done, not just writing things.

  2. I don’t procrastinate, I masturbate.

    But seriously, I have been a chronic procrastinator. I wrote a 20-page research paper in grad school 2 days before it was due. Oh yeah, you can bet your Hispanic ass that it was top-notch.

    Cheese sticks, yum……

    But yeah, to beat procrastination, I try not to over-think it. Just f-n do it. However, this isn’t so easy when it comes to writing- you just can’t force creativity and genius sometimes. So, I write only when it comes to me. This might not wok when you have a plan to publish and make millions, but I’ve noticed that my writing is better when it isn’t forced/predicated on a goal to make it rain. But that might not work for you.

    Have I mentioned that you so remind me of Montez from Workaholics????

    I also like physical activity. I get my best ideas after working out and in the shower. You already do hot yoga right??

    In the meantime, remember that most perfectionists procrastinate. So bask in your high standards and make love to those cheese sticks.

    Your friend in Wisconsin

    • Man, I feel awkward talking to you about cheese. It’s like discussing the finer points of ramen or sushi with a Japanese person: I’m way out of my depth, son. Wisconsin represent!!!!!!!

      I feel you about not forcing creativity. That’s how I tend to write 90% of the time. I take it slow, make love to the page, and give birth to little black words. Sometimes I do wonder if they’re mine though . . .

      I haven’t actually seen Workhalics. I YouTube’d a video of Montez. He was talking about how freaky his bedroom is. The show’s humor looks right up my alley. 🙂

      I gotta get back into yoga. My downward dog is looking like a bow-legged ferret.

      Oh, and I need to read more about your misadventures in Wisconsin! Doo eet!

      Your boy in Brooklyn

      • Oh my- that is my favorite Workaholics scene- when he talks about laying down the tarp, I lose it. In a sexual way of course. I almost need a trap for the goo. And I never wonder if it’s mine.

        Truthfully, I don’t know that much about cheese. Except for that I like it deep fried and that my fave kind is goat.

        I demand another novel excerpt!

  3. Pingback: My Weekly Update – Future, Present and Return to the Past | Sydney Aaliyah

  4. I loved this post!

    Several months ago, I had to start writing my dissertation. I am also one of those people who writes 20 page papers the day before they’re due, so when it came to writing a 200+ page paper, I wasn’t sure how to force myself to write. Writing 20 pages the day before is one thing; writing 200 pages the day before doesn’t exactly work.

    I ended up using tomatoes….(mytomatoes.com) It is called the Pomodoro Technique.

    Basically, I start the tomato (unpausable timer) and I have to write until it is up – 25 minutes. I can’t check email or do anything unrelated to the dissertation chapter. After the tomato is up, I can “procrastinate” for 5 minutes and then start a new tomato. Finish and repeat.

    I also found it useful for pushing myself: Tired and crabby, I’d tell myself, “Just one more tomato…” Sometimes it was just one more, but often it would be four more.

    It sounds simple, but I found it extremely effective for getting me in my chair and writing. At the very least, it helped me develop a productive habit. (Telling myself it didn’t matter if it was crap, as long as it was on the page, also helped immensely.)

    Of course, creative writing is a slightly different beast, so I’m not sure how well it translates.

    But that’s how I beat procrastination and wrote 8.5 chapters (1.5 to go!).

    • Tomatoes! I’d never heard of this motivational technique; it reminds me of Write or Die http://writeordie.com/ which let’s you pick a time goal (25 minutes, like your tomatoes).

      BUT! if you stop writing during that time, weird things will start happening depending on the difficulty level you choose: A loud sound will play until you start writing again or your words will start erasing themselves until you get to typing.

      It’s a very neat app.

      I’m going to try out the tomatoes for my writing this morning. Thanks for the tip, and I hope that you finished your essay!

  5. This has not helped me overcome procrastination and get back on track. This HAS helped me determin that I really need those cheesesticks I decided not to get. Now I should go get them. They are wonderful and fun to eat, thin little string at a time. They are full of delicious flavor and now call out to my soul. So, Fuck It, I’ll just get the damn cheese.

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