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Procrastination - does it give more sorrow than a bliss to an artist?

eM 5 min read
Procrastination - does it give more sorrow than a bliss to an artist?

What is procrastination?

Procrastination is simply the act or habit of delaying or putting off something until the last minute or past its deadline. We perceive procrastination as a bad thing. Very often, we think procrastinators are lazy and unproductive people with a lack of responsibilities.

I'm personally guilty procrastinator and I can admit it. I felt embarrassed and forced to "fix" myself most of my life. And that's how we feel, as a broken thing that needs to be repaired.

But is it always a bad thing?

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"Good" procrastination

Productive procrastination is a process that helps some people to be on top of their thoughts and emotions towards completing their outstanding tasks. When done properly, procrastination can actually be a healthy way of dealing with your to-do list.

Procrastinating on purpose has its own positive effects, as it can help you rearrange your approach in accomplishing your tasks. Avoiding one task to complete another is not always wrong. As long as you are getting work done, it’s still a healthy way of cleaning your to-do list. Shaping the structure of the tasks by priority with the most urgent on the top, lesser priority tasks lower down on the list doesn't mean you are lazy.

Apparently, the Egyptians had two meanings for procrastination. The first was the one we know–“destructive procrastination.” The second was “wisely waiting for the right time.”

Most of us have heard the saying “never put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. In our minds, discipline and productivity mean not delaying decisions or not leaving things until the last minute.

There is definitely wisdom and truth in this. But sometimes, delay and procrastination might actually be a good way to a success. It prevents us from half-baked chewy cookies.

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Like I should have published this article yesterday evening and sent it with my other ones in the weekly newsletter. But I had a long day visiting my family and once I came back to my laptop, my brain was just empty. Every sentence I have created sounded wrong. So whatever I would have produced yesterday would be probably a total crap. So I have decided to just sleep on that one. With a fresh mind the next day, I could throw the letters one after another with no hassle.

The self-reflection helps us to not stick with the fastest idea, but the best one. If it's not life threatening, it is better to discover the right idea instead of forcing out an idea right now.

The art-making life with procrastination

So what does it mean for an artist to live with procrastination? They pushed us daily to be more creative, more efficient, to do more work. But any creative process is not about the speed and sometimes it just takes time. Staring for hours on a blank canvas or tablet will help no one. This is exactly the time to take a break and find some inspirational things to do and stop to feel guilty or embarrassed. Our brain is a complicated organ and needs a chance to find and make new connections, solutions and restart the creativity process.

Writer’s Block
Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash

Creative block

Another consequence of the feeling of guilt by procrastination is a creative block. We can describe creative blocks as the inability to access the internal creativity. Those in creative professions are often more likely to be affected by creative blocks, which can last for days, weeks, months, or even years. The fear of imperfection, failing on the tasks aka the guilt of procrastination, is just a never-ending story. You are trapped in a muddy hole, trying to scramble up and then falling over and over again. Feeling miserable because every time you try to stand up and finally create something, you just slap yourself again.

How to overcome creative blocks using affirmation technique
A creative block can make your relationship with the creation itself uncomfortable and can leave you feeling insecure and demotivated.

Be aware of perfectionism

Creating anything perfect is just impossible. Nothing and no one is perfect. So if you are always dreaming about painting the perfect piece, but never start with a single line, then you are postponing forever and that type of procrastination is not good. The core of perfectionism is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of not measuring up to other's expectations.

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I was born a perfectionist. Nothing is ever good for me, I can always add more and improve more. It took me a lot of understanding and lowering my own expectations. I had to realise that I create and write because I like it. The fact, that I put it out there for other people, needs to be secondary. Otherwise, I was just permanently on the same spot and missed a lot of opportunities. Every single part of my blog needed to be perfect. But nobody was coming to read my articles. Why? Because it took me weeks to publish a brief article. Because of fear. I needed to realise that good content means more than perfectly looking web and top-notch content.

This fear can be harmful, especially in a creative field that requires us to basically  produce new stuff 24/7 and put our skin on the line. That vulnerability can stop us in our art paths, making it nearly impossible to make anything at all. And all of this leads back to the creative block.

On the other hand, if you are on a deadline, procrastination can help you overcome the perfectionism. When the time pressures on you, you will very likely focus more on finishing the project instead of focusing on perfection. Once the fire is lit, it will drive you to create like crazy. And probably your finished piece will be much more than an idea, it will come from you and your visions rather than the thought what everyone else would consider perfect.

What's the best part about art? Imperfection. We all see and perceive differently.

Perfection leads to procrastination leads to paralysis

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Sorrow or bliss?

Do you think that procrastination is a bad thing? Is it for you more of a sorrow or a bliss? Are you yourself a procrastinator? What are the biggest struggles you need to deal with? Or if you are not a procrastinator, share with us below in the comments how you do that.

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