Tuesday 23 January 2018

About Procrastination

I am really looking forward to this being a communicative group because I love seeing what other people are up to and following their creative process, so I had good intentions of making a work-in-progress post as my contribution.  Sad to say though, I have not even started on my quilt.  There are some valid excuses for this - some events have taken up a bit of time and emotional energy recently and for the last week I've had the sort of cold that makes you want to lie on a chaise longue, clutching a lace hankie while bravely protesting in a weak voice that you're alright really, or in my case sprawling on the sofa, sniffling and watching re-runs of CSI Miami.

But the main reason for not having started is Procrastination.  Every time I make something to a deadline I leave it to the last minute which causes a lot of stress and every time I think I will start earlier next time.  So I was thinking about procrastination, and instead of a WIP piece (or actually even just getting on with my quilt, oh the irony!) I thought I would write about that instead.

Procrastination is the thief of time (Charles Dickens, I looked it up) and it's definitely the curse of the crafter.  Why do we do it? (I'm assuming I'm not alone.)  

Personally I can find many reasons to procrastinate, including:

1 there are always other things that need doing - clean the bathroom, put on a clothes wash, etc, etc
2 I'm never sure where I've put all the bits of fabric that I need and the thought of hunting for them is wearying
3 I use the family dining table when I'm working, and it's always covered with stuff so I need to claim a bit of space before I start, and I need to clear it away again when I finish.

But these are feeble excuses because 

1 nothing truly catastrophic will happen if the bathroom is a mess for a bit longer or if everyone runs short of socks
2 half an hour spent sorting the stash and retrieving the necessary bits is not arduous and would be doubly productive
3 again, this is a dispiriting activity, but no big deal!

So I don't think these are the real reasons and so, again hoping this is not just me, why do we do it?  For me part of the reason is lack of confidence and the fear that what I make will fall short somehow.  Social media is a blessing and a curse because the opportunity to engage with other like-minded people is so lovely, but it's too easy to fall into comparing yourself with other people.  There's also the fear that my work won't match up to the original grand ideas. 

Part of the reason is fear of commitment.  Fear of committing limited resources (time, fabric?) to a project and somehow 'wasting' them.

I think we have to hang on tightly to our own identities, the idea of making what we want to make and what interests us, doing it as well as we can, and try to enjoy the process and the constant discovery.  Nothing is a failure and nothing is wasted if you have learned something.    Also, you don't get interest on unspent time and you can't take a fabric stash to the grave!

Is procrastination ever a good thing?  Well yes.  Even when I'm cleaning the bathroom, or putting on a clothes wash, I'm thinking about the project in hand.  It's an absolute luxury and source of happiness to do this and it's why I enjoyed taking part in Four-in-Art and why I wanted to keep going with a new group.  

Putting things off also means that you can take advantage of lucky events.  Since the random number generator picked this theme, Nature, from the list we'd all contributed I've followed a lot of trains of thought and had come up with a couple of ideas that 'would do', but last week I was wandering back and forth in front of my dining room window while chatting to my sister on the phone and I looked down into the neighbour's garden and saw a scene that really inspired me.  Now I have a definite plan, and just hope I can pull it off!

So now that I've banged on ad nauseam about procrastinating, please tell me I'm not alone.  Do you procrastinate?  -  if so why, and how do you get round it?  I'd love to know what gets in the way of your creativity.  If you don't, I admire and envy you!  


  1. Oh geez. Did you hop into my brain and write what you heard? I had the flu....two different versions that went through our house of 5. We had a wedding after the first of the year. My "room" is a mess from everyone sticking things in here to be hidden from the wedding gathering. Then we get to the part about living up to the talents of others and not being able to translate ideas to fabric.

    Yup, bet more of us are going to admit we have all these same issues. But I have been excited about this project and tossed around a lot of ideas. I am determined that this will be enjoyable and a learning process. Therefore, I'm trying something I have never done before. Rats...just not working out so I'll be starting all over today. The funny thing, this project has given me a new determination and I feel no stress that the deadline is growing near. I feel no worry that there are others in the group that are far more skilled and experienced than I am and I don't even feel the need to be as good as they are. My attitude is that I am here to make myself happy and THAT is a freeing thought.

    1. Hooray for being freed to try new things and to do what makes you happy! I think this group is going to be a really nice environment :-)

  2. Sorry, forgot to tag myself to read future comments.

  3. You are absolutely not alone Catherine, as you already know procrastination could be my middle name :) I knew what I wanted to do for this challenge almost straight away. Have I done it, of course not!!! So, inevitably some compromises are being made as I type. I am still enjoying the process and will get around to what I had originally hoped to do sometime and by then I will have run out of excuses as to why it couldn't be done :)

    1. Yay for fellow procrastinators! Deadlines are scary, but good for having to come up with at least something :-)

  4. Great post, Catherine!
    This is me exactly!
    I do have an idea of what I will do. It’s just a matter of getting started!
    And for me, I still need to introduce myself. Sorry about the delay!
    I’ll be with you shortly.
    Barbara xx

  5. Well make it six out of six. While I have done some of the preliminary work on paper, I have yet to sew that first piece of fabric. First excuse is I had forgotten all about it until Catherine had made a comment on my blog a few weeks ago. Cut me a little slack here, now seventy my memory isn't what it use to be. I now have a new pocket calendar. Second, I had two quilts to ordered to be finished by the end of Jan. But being honest I'm still had time if II had not procrastinated some. I'm still shooting for the 31 of Jan though it might only be a flimsy. But I resolve not to have the excuse of forgetting again. I'll be working on the procrastination thing.
    I'm claiming that "great minds think alike" and I'm sticking to it.

  6. Great post, Catherine. It seems we all have a lot in common. I definitely recognise lots of what you say. One of the reasons I procrastinate is that I like to do one thing at a time and keep going until I get to the end (which in our house, is almost impossible) and if stop I struggle to get started again. Another is that, with these art quilts, I genuinely worry that I won't be able to think of anything to make so I ponder and ponder until I get a picture in my mind of what I'm hoping to do and once that happens I usually make a start (I've had my Nature design idea for a while and even quilted the background...) but then I lose all sense of urgency and feel as if it's as good as made. I know things actually always take longer than expected and evolve during the making but I never truly believe that they won't get done so the necessity of finishing somehow fades away until a deadline looms. Ironically, every time I finish one I feel I've been too pressured for time and wish I'd started sooner! I've enjoyed reading all the comments and I'm very much looking forward to seeing what everyone makes :)

    1. Oh I totally understand the thing about only doing one thing at a time! I seem to only be able to work in a very linear fashion, so if I have stalled on something it really clogs things up but I think it's the only way I can finish something, before I can reward myself with another project :-)

  7. OK, I raise my hand and admit I procrastinate. In fact, having been a member of Four-in-Art for (I think 4 years) this is the first time I am finished a WEEK before the deadline. Although I still have to finish my blog post! I procrastinate with everything--the house, the shopping, getting birthday cards out (I should just buy belated greeting cards!). I always have.

    I stress, and after 60+ years I should know it does not good! I work on multiple projects at once, my sewing area is cluttered, you get the idea. One thing I must try to say more often is "no." If someone asks me to sew something for them, I'm right there.

    I am trying to turn a new leaf and finish before deadlines. I want to enjoy the process. I have learned that what I create should make me happy and if others like it that will be icing on the cake.