The Myth of Getting Ahead

scumbag brain

The flip side of the procrastination coin is the manic impulse we have, on occasion, to not be caught with our proverbial pants down; we feel a powerful urge to get ahead, putting a project so far ahead of schedule we could shoehorn in a missionary trip to Africa in the downtime.

Why This Is a Lie

Even if you sketch out a plan, and believe yourself to be rational in accomplishing such a “get-ahead” scheme, you can’t. You won’t. If you’re a procrastinator, then decide to do a gargantuan amount of work in one fell swoop, you’ll fall flat, and probably frustrated.

Your brain is lying to you.

See, our brains lie all the time. (Ask anyone with a history of mental illness challenges.) Your procrastinator’s brain is telling you that you can simply switch on and plow through an enormous amount of work (an entire chapter? A short story collection? An entire novel?) if the conditions are juuuuust right.

But, as we’ve discussed before, procrastination is part of your process. You will stop. You will get stuck. You will, without a doubt, get tired.

So what to do?

Let Go of the Get-Ahead Myth

But when will I ever get a break? you moan. I hear you. While writing is what I love to do, I often long for an uninterrupted stretch of time where the responsibility to produce doesn’t weigh on me, following me around like a half-deflated party balloon.

The myth is that manic work can carve out that swath of time. Here’s the fact: Slow, steady work will not only leave you with surprising breaks and welcome downtimes, it won’t burn you out, and you’ll come to resent it less.

Map Out a Slow and Steady Plan

Procrastinators are notorious planners (we plan and rarely follow through). To answer your need to plan, map out a slow and steady plan. If you need help building a writing habit, check out these three helpful posts:

And Finally, Think of Your Writing Like Eating

Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m going to eat everything I possibly can for the next four days, and I won’t have to eat again until November. Phew! What a load off!”

Of course not, because eating is fun and that’s stupid. Your writing is the same way. Remember, it does feed a part of you that would otherwise, even with the best of rest, go hungry.

In other news, it’s snowing in Montana today, and parts of Texas have a lower forecasted temperature than North Pole, Alaska, today. 

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to try and get ahead?