A client recently was wanted help with procrastination. She had to write the script for a video, and it was way overdue. Every time she tried to get down to it, she panicked. She’d “give herself a break” by engaging in what she called “addictive behaviors,” which for her was playing solitaire.
We unpacked the panic and her self-criticism at being such a procrastinator: what if it’s terrible? what if it’s fabulous and she’s offered the job she’s always wanted? maybe she didn’t deserve to do what she wanted. Maybe she was fooling herself.
Sound familiar? So often people accuse themselves of procrastinating when they are really battling demons. We could address historical issues later. I wasn’t going to add to the distraction by wandering down that lane at this time. As she talked about the video, I could feel her energy building, and I remembered the tension that would build in me when I thought about a project. Suddenly I saw it for what it really was. (And I saw what was really going on when I was editing From Hurt to Joy and gained eight pounds because I kept getting up to snack to “relieve the stress.”)
In order to create something that doesn’t exist until you give it form, a tremendous amount of energy needs to be gathered and directed. to the building of energy. It’s the same as the tension when you’re on the starting block, or waiting to walk onstage to play a violin concerto, or putting on your running shoes to go further than you have before. It is necessary, and its purpose is to gather and focus your energy to do this thing. If we don’t see it for what it is, we stall, blanking out at the emptiness of the page. That kind of blanking out is a sure sign that you’ve just ungrounded. All your attention is on the empty page, and you’ve lost the rest of you, the process, and the world around you.
“You’ve done so much work to get to the point of being ready to do this. When you hide from yourself and your path, all that work is lost, I said to her. The angels cry when you distract yourself! You and all the forces of creation have to start over to get you to that point. That moment of beginning is so rich. It’s not unmanageable anxiety. It’s the fire of creation. Don’t lose it with the sludge of self-doubt. See that being with the creative process as tending to your Self, not abandoning yourself. Settle into that revving up as if you’re getting ready to shoot forward, because you are. The only thing that works in continuing. That level of what people experience as anxiety is the necessary gathering and focusing of energy. The only way to continue is to breathe, ground into your body by coming back to an awareness of all of your body, and ground by connecting with the Earth, and thereby, with the wider world of energy and process. Be the one who writes, the one who creates, by being connected.”
Breathe. Connect with your body. Connect with the earth and with the energies that support your process. Be aware of the energy building, yet don’t let it wash away your focus. Ride the energy of creativity as you’d ski a mountain – a combination of muscle work, focus, strength, and staying loose, flexible and responsive to each moment.
Then see what you create.