P is for Poetry and Procrastination #AtoZChallenge

Posted April 18, 2019 in Blog Fests & Hops, Creative Writing / 2 Comments

The Blogging from A-Z Challenge continues today. Throughout April I’m posting about my life as a writer, including my inspirations, frustrations and celebrations.

For the letter P, I’m talking about two of my writing weaknesses.

Poetry

I have a confession to make. I can’t write ‘serious poetry’. I’ve always admired T.S Elliott, Alan Ginsberg, Phillip Larkin and the Romantic poets like Wordsworth and Blake. I spent a lot of my teenage years and early twenties trying to write deeply profound poetry and most of it is pretentious drivel. Still, it gives me a chuckle when I read it. You’ll find some of it buried in the archives of this blog if you’re curious, but I’m not going to make it that easy for you. 😉

Nowadays, I write in my own style, which is mostly rhyming verse with a catchy, sing-song rhythm. Perhaps one day I will put together a collection of children’s poetry. Who knows?

Procrastination

I am a terrible procrastinator. I often leave things to the last minute in favour of watching films or using social media. This used to really puzzle me. Why I am I procrastinating when I genuinely love to write? I would beat myself up internally for being lazy and lacking self-control when I wasted my time doing things other than writing.

I recently read an article from the New York Times called “Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control)” and it got me thinking about the psychology behind procrastination. Dr. Piers Steel explains that it’s a form of self-harm caused by “an inability to manage negative moods around a task.”

This makes so much sense to me. I definitely procrastinate more when I deeply care about a project and want to succeed. It’s illogical, but I experience anxiety and self-doubt about my ability to pull it off. I worry that the idea that seems so wonderful and exciting in my head will be a terrible failure when I put it on paper. It’s these negative emotions that I’m subconsciously trying to avoid when I procrastinate.

“Procrastination is an emotion regulation problem, not a time management problem,”

~ Dr. Tim Pychyl, professor of psychology and member of the Procrastination Research Group at Carleton University in Ottawa.

Ultimately, this behaviour is destructive because it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Avoiding the task only increases my odds of failure and my self-doubt then intensifies. I’m working to break that cycle. I try to set aside a ‘sacred’ 20 minutes of writing time each day, during which I put my laptop in aeroplane mode and cut out all distractions. But more importantly, I’m looking into the root cause of the anxiety itself and trying to improve my self-esteem in relation to my writing.

Before you go…

Do you enjoy reading or writing poetry? If so, what forms or styles do you prefer? Is procrastination something you struggle with?

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2 responses to “P is for Poetry and Procrastination #AtoZChallenge

  1. Jo Neal

    Exactly what I do with my ‘homework’. Understanding why we procrastinate makes me realise how much I love what I do, which can’t be a bad thing. I’m always finding excuses – visitors, noisiness, other distractions – but I don’t need to now. More self-confidence and a give-it-a-go attitude will help us both enormously; get in there!

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