Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Are you a Pre-crastinator?!

Isn’t it nice when you recognise an aspect of yourself in another person’s personality analysis – especially when it’s new to you and has an impressive name?! We’ve all heard of Procrastination. Now Oliver Burkeman (The Guardian Magazine) has discovered a new term: Precrastination’. It means doing things sooner than they really need to be done. Aha, yes – this is ME!

I think I need to join Burkeman. He’s worried that his epitaph will read: ‘He crossed a lot of items off his to-do list’… I have a sneaking feeling my sister is the same as me – we’re both planners and finishers and tend to ‘just get on with it.’ Neither of us are fans of ‘faffing about’ or lying on sunny beaches (what’s the point in that?!). I’ve been extremely lucky too, that in the six years that I’ve devoted my time to writing fiction, I’ve not suffered writers’ block. Precrastinators don’t seem to get it - that’s because we hate having tasks ‘hanging over us’.

I know where I’ve got this particular trait from; my Mum was always telling us to ‘get the jobs done first and then you can play.’ She hated settling down after supper to watch a gripping TV drama and then having to get up to do the washing up. Just like me. I like to get everything ‘out of the way’ first (Burkeman calls it ‘clearing the decks’) and only then can I properly relax.

Being a Precrastinator has helped me enormously. I’m invariably early for appointments, meetings and deadlines. I used to write for Slimming World and every time they gave me a submission cut-off date (for around 20 features in all), I was pressing ‘send’ several days early. Revision for exams, essays at University – always done in advance. I had a friend who used to leave essays until the last minute and stay up all night to get them done. My worst nightmare! I could never dare to do that. When I get a deadline, my reaction is immediate – ‘If I don’t get on with it NOW,’ I panic, ‘I might be ill, lose the thread of the assignment, not be able to get the right books out of the library, my Internet might be down, I might break my wrist, something might crop up as an emergency…’ Result: ‘Better get on with it straight away.’

Please don’t assume from this that what I do comes out anywhere near ‘perfect’. The downside of Precrastination for me is that I do sometimes rush things. Tut-tut – not good – must do better in that regard…

Recently we’ve had builders in – just when I’ve got major revisions to do. It’s been a case of ‘Builders’ Block’ - banging, crashing, (ceilings coming down), radio blaring, cat upset, getting up to make drinks, getting up to check back gate is shut (cat, again), not being able to use the loo etc. 

 But I’ve stayed with the writing through it all.

Writing, effortlessly, comes first. I don’t mean the writing itself is effortless, but rather the choice about whether to do it or not – that’s a GIVEN for me, now.

Isn’t it good to know you’re not alone/mad..?
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AJ Waines is the author of Psychological Thrillers:  The Evil Beneath and Girl on a Train. Both books hit the Number One spot in 'Murder' and 'Psychological Thrillers' in the UK Kindle charts.