The Subtle Yet Insidious Power of Why We Say *uck It and Start Procrastinating
Part 3: The Pressure Principle
“I’m a 24-hour blogger. When there’s no pressure on me, I can talk and write and lecture with the best of them. But put a deadline on me and I start getting writer’s block.”
Now, I’d love to sit here and tell you that I have risen above the trope of the ever procrastinating writer. That I am some zen Buddhist monk, a being of light floating above the rest of you; typing away and crushing my deadlines as I merrily whisk away off to the next project, awash in the joy of the process.
Sadly this is not the case. When I am given a deadline it’s all to easy for me to fall into my old line of thinking; looking at a newly minted deadline with anxiety and its looming and inevitable frustration.
I tend to look at everything I start as a mountain. Looking up I see its craggy edges and sloping walls. Its peak is hidden by the clouds and the sheer magnitude of its height. Surely, if I climb to its nadir it will be just as inhospitable as the rocky jagged artifice I see on the ground before me.
If I cannot imagine the beauty that awaits me upon reaching the top, and only see the inherent dangers in the journey then why would I even step one foot forward to even try?
“If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain”
— Turkish proverb
The answer is because I cannot afford not to. The project must be done. That statement alone horrifies me. Being responsible (gasp) for my deadlines is the mountain, and for all intents and purposes I think it could kill me.
But here is the thing. Left with no choice but to start you are left with only one decision. Where am I going to start my ascent?
I know that I cannot take one single leap. A Superman hail-mary attempt to take one lunge, swiftly passing over the ridges and land safely upon the glacial serene surface of accomplishment.
So that’s out. Sigh.
So I sit down. I brace myself. I whine a bit. I curse a bit more than that and then I start to type. What do I type? Exactly what I am feeling in that moment, even though it has nothing to do with writing this damn article (on procrastination for God sake’s). My Ego rushes through me and I panic, but I continue. I keep going.
I like pressure. Pressure doesn’t make me crack. It’s enabling. I eat pressure, and there might be times when I get a bad feeling in my gut that this might be too much, but you feel pressure when you’re not doing something, you know?
― Louis C.K.
What is happening here?
I am slowly writing my Ego out of the picture. I am now doing something. The blank cursor becomes less and less intimidating. I start to focus a bit more. I have taken the baby steps up the mountain. I don’t look up. More words. I feel it. The pressure is still there, but I am managing it by facing it head on.
I know this is not easier than it sounds, but I assure you that if you keep going one letter, one word, one sentence at a time you the satisfaction will bore through and start to wash away the pangs of a complete and utter in-action. I can’t stop now.
But what if they don’t like it?
In Part 4 of The Subtle Yet Insidious Power of Why We Say *uck It and Start Procrastinating we will explore The Ten Thousand Cuts of Rejection.