Congratulations to Christie Williams from New Zealand for her story about procrastination. Christie wins our June contest.
My Writing Journey – by Christie Williams
When it comes to writing I’ve always been a bit of a night owl. I think it stems from my time as a malnourished university student pulling all-nighters on practically every assignment. Yup, I was that girl. It’s not that I never had time during the day to work on them; I just kept putting them off. I was a failure at prioritizing and a master at procrastinating. But as the saying goes, c’s get degrees and six years on from graduation I was pretty chuffed to say goodbye to that awful, sinking feeling.
So you can imagine my surprise when, as I sat down to start my first assignment on the Short Story Course, my old uni friend ‘procrastination’ turned up. Hey Christie! Oh my gosh – we have soooo much catching up to do. Is that a smudge on the window? You really should clean that off. Are you hungry? Cos we can have lunch now if you like. Oooo, you haven’t read that magazine you got yesterday have you? Don’t you want to know if Beyonce is pregnant? And what about Prince Harry and that Middleton sister?
God she was annoying. She was like a two year-old hyped up on sugar and caffeine bouncing off the walls and screaming for attention. I wasn’t in the mood to babysit; I had a story to write. But come to think about it I was kind of hungry so I made a sandwich.
Two hours later I was back at my desk. It turns out Beyonce wasn’t pregnant and that smudge on the window was one of many. So I cleaned all the windows in the lounge (it would have been silly just to do one). I was feeling quite proud of myself actually. I had been very productive. As for my writing exercise, it didn’t really develop much after that. But I promised myself I’d make a proper go of it tomorrow.
The next day I returned to the scene of the literary crime determined to get through at least half the word count. But the words did not flow freely and it wasn’t long till my friend procrastination returned. This time she sat beside me in silence. I could tell there was something she wanted to tell me. To say it was uncomfortable would be a gross understatement. I couldn’t concentrate with her eyes glaring at me. Christie … This writing thing … do you really think it’s you? I mean, do you think you can do it? I only ask because I’m your friend and friends always tell friends the truth … It’s just, well, don’t you think if you could write this story you would have finished it by now? No one’s going to want to read this. I mean, it’s not even mediocre … it’s abysmal. Don’t waste any more time on something you’re not automatically perfect at. It’ll be easier if you just give up now.
I hated to admit it but she was right.
For the next couple of months procrastination and I had a ball. We painted my nails. We went to the movies. We took on extra shifts at work. We re-arranged the kitchen. We baked muffins. We watched Oprah. I’d forgotten how much fun procrastination could be and she knew me so well. But every now and then I would look over and see my unfinished writing assignment sitting forlornly at the desk. Procrastination would always know what I was thinking though and she would give me a stern look and shake her head from side to side. As my heart dipped each time my writing dreams were squashed, I began to think that maybe procrastination was not such a good friend after all. She was making me feel terrible about something I had not even written yet.
That’s when I got the email. My tutor was concerned that three months into the course I was yet to submit my first assignment. Three months?! I hadn’t realized it had been that long. Are you still doing that course? Pft, don’t even bother. But I did bother. I had taken up the challenge to complete nine stories for the course and I wanted to meet that challenge. Procrastination had to go.
I still spent my days putting off the daunting task but because I had promised myself I would write at least 250 words a day, I ended up writing these as midnight approached. With a small goal to start with, I was able to achieve small wins and before long my first story was complete. It felt great! I waited nervously for feedback from my tutor and was pleasantly surprised when it came back positive. Sure there were a few things to work on, but it was my first attempt.
After a week or so, writing small amounts before bed became a habit. As it turns out midnight is a good time for my creativity. There are minimal distractions, peace and quiet and I’m able to focus all my attention on the page. Procrastination is a toxic friend of mine and anytime I allow it she will return. But I have learnt that it is easier to allocate her visiting hours than to cut her off completely. We spend time together during the day every now and then but when 10pm ticks over she knows she’s out the door.
Five modules and five assignments later I’m still a night owl with my writing, only, unlike my time at university, this time it’s by choice. When procrastination comes knocking late at night I don’t let her in. It’s my journey, not hers.
Photo credit: Flickr.com_Corie Howell