A Case Study in Petting Cats

Procrastination jokes are all the same. The formula is something along the lines of “I should be writing, but I’m doing X instead”. They’re often funny and almost always relatable, but I’ve often criticized their prevalence in the writing community. I view it as a form of negative self-talk. If you tell yourself that you’re lazy, inadequate, or whatever other negative thing, it can come true. I genuinely believe that creating a culture of“Lol, look at me procrastinating” can create an environment where it self-perpetuates.

Look, I’m not trying to tell people they can’t make jokes. People have their own reasons for this kind of thing, and I think that extends into dark humor, too. They’re a coping mechanism for some people, or a way to vent, or whatever else makes people feel better. I just happen to find the prevalence worrisome, because I hate the idea that some writers may be creating a self-fulfilling prophecy out of it. 

But I’ve written about this before. Right now, I’m trying to say it better so I can introduce you to my own struggle with procrastination. For the first time in a long time, I’ve found myself amused at all the jokes. Sometimes, we all need a little negativity.

Cleaning is one of my major forms of procrastination. My husband usually calls me out on it. Anytime I’m frantically cleaning the house, he knows that I’m either having an obsessive compulsive breakdown or I’m putting off writing. He’ll ask me if I’ve taken my medicine, and if the answer is yes, he points to the writing room.

Ah, I love that man. Anyhow!

I set ambitious writing goals for myself this year. I powered through plenty of miserable sessions where all I wanted to do was goof off on Twitter and bury myself in World of Warcraft. I set up a corkboard with my goals marks across it in brightly-colored note cards. It’s still there, glaring at me from a patch of wall directly over my desk. I call it the Board of Judgement. 

The Board of Judgement definitely helps, but it has a powerful nemesis: my cats. I near constantly found myself inviting my cats into my little writing room and petting them, playing with them, and talking to them as if they can understand me. This isn’t unusual, but it’s not the sort of thing I do when I should be writing. You could say that I “Should be writing, but instead I’m playing with my cats #writingcommunity #amwriting #procrastination”. 

I typed it more than once, but always scolded myself. It wasn’t likes or retweets that I wanted, but reassurance. I wanted to know that it was okay, and that everyone else was doing it, too. I knew people would give it to me, too. I wanted that validation. 

You know what? I didn’t need it. I know myself well enough to realize how that validation would have, in a way, given me permission to keep doing it. But I wanted it anyhow. 

If you need that validation to keep going, or if you need this particular form of humor for some other reason, please continue. For me, this situation confirmed my fears that for some people, it can be a very bad thing. Making my struggles into a joke would have pulled me down.

Procrastination happens to all of us, but we need our own ways to fight it off. For me, it was staying positive, staying off Twitter, and kicking my cats out of my writing room. Doing so made sure that I hit my narrow July goals. I had to fight for August and October, too. I’m fighting for November. I think I’ll make it, but I have to guard myself every time. I’ll keep going, and I hope all of you will, too. Find your way. You can do it.

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