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Mini Series: Barriers to Creativity - Procrastination Pathways

In the spirit of my blogging journey and how long I put it off, we are delving into all the pathways that we take down the winding road of procrastination.

Let’s take a look at the root of procrastination - Fear. Putting off our creativity isn’t like putting off a chore - sometimes, maybe it is - but usually, we avoid things that make us uncomfortable, whether it be the vulnerability of creating or fear of perceived failure. Procrastination is simply a way for us to avoid these painful growth periods, made especially easy when we’re still trying to form a creative practice and try new disciplines. By taking the winding road of procrastination we create a feeling of safety and comfort - but it’s only an illusion, because sooner or, in this case, later, we have to face the project, make the art and experience the vulnerability of creativity.


My Journey with Procrastination:

I spent several months prepping and planning to start this blog, tweaking the website every few days and writing lists of post ideas. My blog journey isn’t the only creative space procrastination seeps into my creative practice. My passion project, my fantasy novel, has been a decade long lesson in procrastination, but in this case, a necessary one. I start and stop this project regularly, taking long stretches of inactivity after short bursts of intense writing or planning. In this case, my procrastination pattern is allowing for depth and clarity to develop in the murky waters of creative energy, but this pattern isn’t sustainable forever. If I didn't have other projects on the go getting my work and creativity out into the world this pattern of procrastination would be painful and highly detrimental to my creativity. Eventually, I will have to write the thing from start to finish with all of the in between.


The Pitfalls of Procrastination:

  • Fear: procrastination is rooted in a fear of failure, whether from within ourselves or from without, we fear not being enough, not being able to realize our creative visions, failing to connect with others through our art. Through fear we view creativity as this be all end all that must be realized in poetic greatness. This isn’t true. Creativity is meant to be messy, to be played in. We can’t be scared to create; fear prevents progress.

  • Needing Permission: procrastinating can be a symptom of longing to be picked, needing permission from gatekeepers in order to validate our creativity. It can be terrifying - there it is again, fear - to decide that your creativity is worth pursuing. It’s easy to put off starting, or finishing because no one gave us permission to embrace our creativity. We are pursuing a different path, and we don’t need anyone’s permission to do so, but by procrastinating we allow those voices to tear us down and convince ourselves that we do need gatekeepers to choose us, to validate our creativity.

  • Timidity: procrastination opens the door to timidity in the face of our creative power. We shrink away from taking up space when confronted with our capacity to do so. By veering away from creating we keep ourselves small.


Strategies to Overcome Procrastination:

  • Consistency is key: By touching our creativity regularly, even for a brief moment we can build a pattern of belief in our process and stave off periods of complete procrastination. By regularly returning to our creative projects we can finish projects and give value to our own creativity in spite of the gatekeepers.

  • Minimum Effort Required: Simply putting in the least amount of effort to keep the ball rolling on our creative projects can open a world of possibility in our creative lives. If we allow ourselves to give little bits instead of intimidating ourselves with big projects and throwing all of our energy into, the creative journey becomes a place of growth and reassurance. We can learn to value our creative power and begin taking up space in small ways, emboldening our creativity with smaller efforts to overcome timidity and take up space.

  • Share your art: To take up space we need to share our art, and we need to do so outside of the realm of gatekeepers. Self publish that book, Instagram your art, join a trade show, make reels of your process, start a podcast or an Etsy shop, but get your creativity into the world. If you have a timeline, a reason to create, a way to give yourself permission without needing external validation, you can take back creative power and give yourself a little push to create and push back against procrastination.

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