Up until this very point, as I am writing this post, I had *no* idea what I was going to write for this week’s blog post. I’d been just feeling very “meh” and very “bleh” all day. I barely wrote a handful of words, and there is that voice in the back of my mind going: why aren’t you writing, dammit?!
I’d actually felt worse after I reminded myself of the 25k words I’d written the week before. That was half a NaNo in 1 week! Double damn.
And then, I remembered the years before I began writing full time. In my past life, I was a grad student, working in a lab for longer hours than most people do and getting shitty pay.
What kept me sane? Procrastination.
As a student, I was the master of procrastination. It wasn’t that I don’t get things done, it was that after a while, I began to realize how important it is to know when to break–to know when to take a step back and just chill.
Procrastination is not laziness. Quite the contrary. Procrastination is about changes in your mind set. I see this in science a lot: you get stuck trying to solve a problem, and you’re hitting all the dead-ends and getting absolutely nowhere. A lot of times when that happen, you say “God, I must be the stupidest person on the planet, because I’m sure the other guy in the lab would’ve figured it out by now.” In your head, you think that if you just try two more things, maybe one of them will work this time, but your heart tells you “Stop.”
I used to listen to my head. I’d be in the lab until wee hours and still not getting it. And then I learned. I learned to listen to my heart and go for a walk, grab a coffee. Go home, cook dinner, and just let it all go. I learned to turn it off for a brief while and do something–anything–else and just stop worrying about the problem.
In short, I procrastinate. I’m doing something else “fun” rather than plugging away at something and getting absolutely nowhere.
Guess what? Sometimes, it just clicks after that break. Maybe it was realizing an error you didn’t notice before, or realizing that you’re looking at the problem in the wrong way, or simply inspired by something else you’ve read/seen/heard that led you to a surprising solution. Our brains are constantly working, even if you’re not focused on the problem right at the moment. Sometimes, when it gets stuck, you just needed to add some fresh inputs, to jog it a bit, turn your thinking on its head.
So, don’t fret if you suddenly have a bad day when the words just doesn’t flow. Maybe you just need a break. Maybe you just need to procrastinate a bit–read that book you’ve said you were going to read all week, go out for a drink with friends, watch a movie with your kids… And then it’ll come to you.
A. D. Cooper