Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Thrill of Procrastination

As so often happens, by coincidence (unless Michelle Slatalla at the New York Times is attuned to my brainwaves), there was an article in the Sunday NYTimes about procrastination. Since I plan to talk about this in my workshop on Saturday, I read it with interest.

The article, "The Big Dilly-Dally," makes some points about procrastination and how to deal with it that I'd heard before, including that when people say they do their best work under pressure? It's usually the only time they actually do the work.

But Ms. Slatalla touched on something else I found interesting, and that is, that there is a certain thrill that comes with procrastination and the pressure to reach a long-avoided deadline. It's a rush to the finish, in more ways than one.

I've heard a lot of writers complaining about their deadlines and often, there does seem to be a little thrill of excitement about it. I've always understood that on some level, because even if I'm worrying about my deadlines, at least I have them to worry about, and that's a good thing.

But now I get why some authors seem to live for the looming deadline. After all, we writers aim to create drama in our work, so why not in our real lives, too?

In my case, though, I find an impending deadline more stressful than exciting. Yet getting up in front of an auditorium full of people and making a speech that I've been given one minute to prepare? Not a problem. I used to win awards for impromptu public speaking. However, I realize that for many people, making a speech under those circumstances would bring on the equivalent of a full-blown panic attack.

As with so much, it's a case of different people with different needs addressing them in different ways. We all just happen to write, too.

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