I remember reading somewhere about a study (now I can’t find it, of course; where do these things disappear to?) where researchers discovered that, of the writers they queried, 100% procrastinated. The conclusion? Procrastination is just a natural part of the writing process.
As a creative, this was the best (and possibly also the worst) possible news I could have received. I now revel in this vital phase of writing; I embrace it wholeheartedly, I celebrate it. I make a long, detailed list of important, urgent things to do, in order of how serious and pressing they are, and then I sit back, put my feet up, and I just…don’t do them. And I love it. As the inimitable Mark Twain advises, “never put off till tomorrow that may be done the day after tomorrow just as well.”
But how has this procrastination-friendly attitude affected my work?
It hasn’t. I’m still just as productive or unproductive as I ever was—I never miss deadlines (my web comic, Itchy Feet, updates every single Sunday, come hell or high water), I’m a hard worker, and if I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I just probably won’t do it right this minute.
All this to say that I know you, language learners, because I am one of you. You like to study, because you like to learn. It’s important that you get it right, and you can be hard on yourself, especially if you don’t meet your own expectations. You might be a perfectionist, or you might just be driven. You’re no doubt a hard worker, because you’ve seen firsthand the rewards of dedicated labor, that moment of enlightenment when you first communicate successfully in your new language, and it’s intoxicating. You have a goal, and you’re going to achieve it, of that much I am sure.
Just don’t forget to enjoy the part where you’re not doing it, too. Don’t feel guilty. It’s part of the process!
What about you? I know you procrastinate. Do you relish it, or do you beat yourself up?