These writing contests at SFF World have deadlines, but sometimes you’d never know it from the way I go about it. There’s one ending on the 25th, and I’m about halfway done with the story. I started it back in January (this is the bi-monthly contest), convinced I had plenty of time, then hated what I wrote and revised it five or six times, still certain I had time. Then … well, life.
But that’s a convenient excuse, actually. There were plenty of nights when I had every intention of getting to work on it, had ideas and motivation, and yet I found myself staring at 11:00 PM wondering where the evening went. Some distraction or another always raised its head, be it my game nights or some fleeting bit of entertainment on the television or just general internet wool gathering. And still I kept telling myself the 25th was far away. Only now it’s the day after tomorrow.
I do thrive on that kind of pressure, but I’d really like to stop making it a habit. Because if I can procrastinate on something that does have a deadline, imagine what I’m doing with the ideas that don’t have one. If you guessed, “Not much,” congratulations! Fields plowed but not a seed planted. I tell myself I’ll buckle down, but something always gets in the way. Or I let it get there.
Part of me wants to believe this is simply a matter of self-discipline, that I need to stop making excuses and winnow out the distractions and just get it done. But I worry that there might be something wrong with me. I’ve had friends suggest I get tested for ADD, that I should get on Ritalin, and frankly, the idea of messing with my head like that terrifies me a little. I don’t want to become someone different, I just want to start and finish something in a timely manner. That shouldn’t require chemicals, right?
Then again, here I am posting my daily entry less than an hour before midnight. But if I can get myself into the mindset of regularly exercising and slavishly recording my calories, I should be able to get myself into the mindset of turning off the TV and pounding out some words for an hour every night. I don’t want to have all these ideas and nothing to show for them. And I don’t want to lean on a prescription to make something happen.
I cringe at the idea of scheduling creativity, but maybe that’s what I have to do. An hour a day, no distractions, in the tank, eyes on the screen, no matter the time. Something’s got to give, and I’d rather it be random channel surfing than my head.