It’s a bright and warm day in June today; June the 19th. Father’s day to be exact. I’ve been busy all day today, like actually busy; I started writing this post in the morning and went to see my dad earlier. But I couldn’t keep this post out of my head. It’s tricky. As writers, we create, and most of us at some point have experienced writer’s block. For creators everywhere the question is simple: does procrastination kill creativity, or is it essential to creativity? We want our work to be perfect and therefore, we don’t put anything down on paper or screen because we don’t think we are good enough. We procrastinate. Your inner critic says “You can’t do this, you’re not good enough”, so you don’t because you believe that negative and nasty voice in your head. Your inner critic isn’t there to help you succeed. There’s always tomorrow… and the day after tomorrow… You do anything else to avoid doing the work you think you aren’t capable of doing. In this case, yes, procrastination kills creativity and prevents you from achieving your goals.
One blogger, Visual Bliss, mentioned the quote “Perfectionism leads to paralysis, which leads to procrastination” by Joe Saltzman, in her post, and I couldn’t agree more. I’m a perfectionist, and if I don’t think that what I am doing or creating, is perfect, then I will stop. I was told today that creativity is an impulsive thought. You have to be in the mood to create. I’ll wait for my creative mood to strike again so I can continue to create. Especially when it come to writing.
I think writer’s block is a manifestation of paralysing perfectionism. You have standards and if you feel like you aren’t writing to those standards then you feel like there’s no point in continuing to write. So you could say that it isn’t procrastination that kills creativity but perfectionism. It’s an indirect effect.
But there are also times when procrastination is essential to creativity. Let me explain…
I’m sure you’ve all left a piece of creative work to the last minute. I know I definitely have. It was caused by procrastination. I spend a lot of my time on the internet, whether it be blogging, on facebook, twitter… you name it. And that means I don’t get work done, even though I’m aware of the looming deadline in the very near future. As the deadline nears, I usually get more and more stressed, but strangely, my progress goes through the roof. Sometimes, after thinking about things for a while, I come up with my most original ideas. If I don’t procrastinate, I burn out and can’t think straight, but when I procrastinate I can organise my ideas in a way they make sense. Procrastination allows your mind to wander, leading to more innovative thinking. But rushing to complete tasks isn’t a good idea…
Da Vinci spent 16 years working on and off on Mona Lisa and her infamous smile. The right kind of procrastination can make you more creative. Da Vinci spent those 16 years experimenting with optics and modelling light to ultimately make him a better painter.
When we procrastinate, we are essentially distracted from our work. But distraction is necessary for thinking outside the box. Your mind is less focused on the task at hand and you are more open to alternative ideas and diverse interpretations thus fostering creativity. We need to give our amazing ideas time.