Procrastination and cocktails!

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I haven’t started my Steeplechase assignment yet. I’ve pondered it a great deal, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to actually start writing. Today I’m going to use this forum to list the justifications of my procrastination, in the hopes that once I name the problem, I can start solving it:

1)I’m terrified of The Steeplechase. If you want to know why, please see my previous post. It’s an intimidating assignment to say the least.

2) I have a stack of 150 student papers that need grading.

3) I’ve been wrapped up in another writing project. I feel like this happens a lot in an MFA—you’ve got your wheels spinning in a hundred different directions, and you’re writing journals and responses to readings and personal essays and fiction, but there’s usually one project that takes your attention the most and suddenly all the others get put on hold. This week, that project is my assignment for my short story class. I have to write a story with a specific time frame—like Jhumpa Lahiri’s “A Temporary Matter” or Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” I have this scene that I’ve been wanting to build a story around, and I’ve finally figured out a way to do it. I tend to be an over-writer, so I’ve found that limiting myself to a certain time frame prevents me from going off on tangents—if you have this problem, too, I suggest you try it: decide ahead of time what the time span will be for your story. I’ve been working on this project compulsively, and meanwhile the Steeplechase assignment sits next to my computer, gathering dust.

4)I have a life, dammit! Working full time, going to school at night, and writing constantly can make one forget this important fact. I feel like I haven’t seen my friends in a very long time, and therefore, I am not ashamed to say that I went OUT last night. We started at Benchmark, a new bar in Old Town, for my friend Katie’s 30th, then we went to Fireplace Inn, Burton Place, Carroll’s, the Irish American Heritage Center, the Emerald Isle, Teaser’s, Morrison’s Roadhouse [no relation], and then, finally, home, because the cops were blockading the door at Morrison’s for reasons that they would not disclose (you’ve gotta love the northwest side of Chicago). And then when I got home, after hemorrhaging my hard-earned money at no less than eight different bars, it was an absolute necessity to make potato and cheese pierogies, because why wouldn’t those sound like a good idea at 5:30 a.m.? You can imagine how I felt when I woke up this morning [afternoon].

I want to turn in at least part of the Steeplechase this Tuesday, but tomorrow the Bears are playing the Packers on Monday night football and my friend’s dad is appearing on Wheel of Fortune and there will be more papers to grade and I’m tired and eventually my excuses will run out and I’ll just have to do it.

I’ll be back on Wednesday with an update.

How does one balance writing with life? Do you procrastinate? Are there any techniques you have for avoiding procrastination?