Mark Twain once said, “You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood. What mood is that? Last-minute panic.”
I like to consider myself a relatively creative person. I can do most creative projects with ease, save singing, dancing, drawing, painting, sculpting, designing, playing an instrument, or being able to put an outfit together to save my life.
OK, maybe I’m not the most creative person in the world, but I’m OK with words.
That “last-minute panic,” as Twain said, is a state I’m all too familiar with. Prone to procrastination, I’m more likely to find a good book to read before getting to my assignments, to-do list, etc., on time.
In the seventh grade the only subject in which I found interest switched from science (those closest to me can take a second to laugh at that one) to English, and any excuse I could make to write for pleasure.
Creative writing and journaling were my vices, and I was convinced I would be the next child author, write the next “Eragon” even.
Since then I’ve become a master procrastinator, adept at eluding recommended study times and due dates, like it’s a game of dodge ball, and viewing appointments and schedules as merely suggestions, things to be done as soon as I’ve finished reading the next chapter.
“I’ll do it tomorrow” and “If I wait until after the weekend, I’ll have a clearer head” became not just frequently used phrases, but mantras and mottos.
After spending a semester as an English major, leisurely writing papers and sometimes getting them in on time, I decided I didn’t want to be a teacher. Casting all other pursuits aside to become a best-selling novelist would be a long shot.
That’s when I decided to become a journalist.
I thought that it would be an easy way to live out my days, writing to my heart’s content, a more reliable method of becoming published, and having people praise my ability to use the English language.
Somehow I’d managed to completely forget about these things you hear so much in the movies called “deadlines.” I forgot that newspaper release dates were a little more set in stone than, say, a professor’s due date for a term paper, and, in my procrastinating state of mind, I thought all would be well.
Needless to say, I jumped into my first reporting class headfirst with all the enthusiasm of a child jumping into those ball pits at Chuck-E-Cheese’s.
That’s when everything changed.
I could no longer put off assignments with strong coffee at Starbucks, doodling in journals and playing Hipster.
No, I had lists to make, interviews, not only to schedule, but to actually show up for. I had deadlines, not due dates, which you have to admit, does sound more threatening.
Procrastination wasn’t something I could get away with, and my cohorts in the newsroom were going to hold me accountable. If I didn’t step up to the plate, I was going to lose their respect.
I had to learn, not only to take responsibility for my own actions and admit when I had nothing to show for my time, but to keep from making the same mistakes. I had to learn to get out of the long-rooted habit of putting things off until the last minute.
Passion, I believe, is the greatest weapon against this nasty vice called procrastination. What I’ve learned, and am still learning, is that finding what you’re passionate about is the key to breaking a bad habit.
There are so many opportunities to let a good thing go because you could “do it tomorrow.”
In the same way, there are just as many opportunities to make yourself get off the couch and get the job done.