I came across this Tweet stating “I can’t decide if procrastination kills creativity or is essential to it” by Grant Snider. It got me thinking how procrastination affects the creative process.
I remember a guest lecture in one of my writing classes suggesting that everything a writer does, whether that is doing nothing, taking out the trash, walking, clubbing, etc. can all be slotted into the “research” category.
Therefore, I think procrastination also fits the bill. I am sure no one understood this better than Shakespeare. I can imagine that he spent enough time procrastinating to be able to write about it in a play.
However, a bit of procrastination is helpful to gather your thoughts and refresh your mind. There are times when procrastinatination aids the creative process.
For example, there might be places where you are stuck and don’t know what to do. A break is quite good as you might find yourself discovering that eureka moment while you are in the shower. I have had a few of those.
A good walk observing nature in the woods or watching ducks swimming in a canal can spark some ideas or distract you while your subconscious resolves your creative issues.
There are also times when you need a little time out to see your work with new eyes or from a different perspective. Procrastination can help out then.
I tend to find that when I am in a zone writing or taking photos ideas flow continuously like water and I need to keep going.
The moment I break out of it all the momentum goes with it. It becomes a task to get my head back into what I was doing.
I have been writing a novel on and off for the past three years. Initially, I was writing daily. I could write ten thousand words in one sitting because I was in the zone.
I was also in a state of being in character where I was so into the narrative I knew everything that was happening to the characters in the story.
I spent months on end writing. The process produced some of my best writing to date. However, I lost momentum and started procrastinating.
Now, I am finding it hard to get back into the story and finish the last third or so remaining. It is a lot much harder to get back into the characters’ heads and find my place in the narrative because of my procrastination.
To write again, I have to go back and read myself into the story, reacquaint myself with the research and brush up on all those technical and stylistic devices I was using.
This is what makes it so much harder to dive back in where I was because by procrastinating, I have created more mountains of work that need levelling before I can write.
Extended procrastination, especially over months or years, is never good for creativity.
I promise myself everyday that I am going to get back to writing this novel but procrastination has murdered my creativity. This is why I am trying to write everyday in preparation for my final assault on this unfinished book.
Writing and photography, like any other discipline such as sport or art: painting, athletics, swimming, football, music, dancing, etc. requires you to practice everyday to become sharper at what you do.
A lot of people believe in the 10 000 mile idea. That is basically, after repeating the same thing such as running, playing music, drawing, etc. about 10 000 times you become competent and proficient at it.
In an nutshell, the idea is that practice makes perfect.
It is necessary to build up that muscle memory that makes you do things you take for granted without even thinking about it.
It is all a result of constant practice and the moment you stop, the rust and the cobwebs takeover and you have to start again from start. It is hard getting that momentum back when it is lost.
Too much procrastination is no good for the creative sparks. The most accomplished creatives are the ones who are disciplined and understand that creativity without any hard work will not help anyone.
Hard work, discipline, routine and persistence are the ingredients that are essential to creativity.
In conclusion, procrastination kills creativity. It is not essential to it. This is the reason some artists throw themselves into a project and don’t stop until it is done. They understand that breaking out of the task kills momentum and can spell the end of that creative streak.