The urge to procrastinate is a good thing! I never thought I would say this, but I have been introduced to a radical new idea thanks to Seth Godin.
In his new book The Icarus Deception (which I highly recommend) he refers to the urge to procrastinate as a sign that you are about to make some really good art. Since creating really good art also makes you vulnerable, it also activates your sense of self-preservation. Your sense of self-preservation then activates your “fight or flight” response, which manifests as an urge to put off making the art. Therefore, the urge to procrastinate is a sign that you are about to create something really good.
That is the best explanation I have ever heard for the common experience of artists, writers, and musicians – that it is a joy to practice your art, but so very difficult to get started. So the next time I feel like procrastinating instead of practicing, I should paradoxically feel a stronger urge to practice because I know I will accomplish something really good.
Seth Godin credits author Steve Pressfield with this idea from Pressfield’s book “The War of Art”. Pressfield calls this tendency to put things off in self-defense “the resistance”. Godin’s take on it differs in that he says you can’t fight the resistance, so it can’t be a war. Instead, you have to embrace the resistance as a sign that you must be on the right track.
I think I need to read Pressfield next.
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So I have finally got a copy of “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield. It is a wise read. The book is in 3 sections: “Defining Resistance” (in which you certainly recognize yourself), “Combatting Resistance” (which inspires you to stop procrastinating) and “Beyond Resistance” (where you can use overcoming procrastination as part of your spiritual growth). Seth Godin did a fine job of pulling the best points out for his own book, but I found some very useful illustrative anecdotes to use with my own students and parents.