On Deadlines and Self Examination

Publish date:

I am working on a deadline for Boston Magazine. The deadline is this
Thursday. And, at the moment, that seems manageable. I am (mostly)
done with the reporting, I have (partially) transcribed the
interviews, I even (vaguely) know what I'm trying to say. Of course,
there are other things for me to do as well, smaller-ish things, like
preparing a presentation about the mechanics and literary devices
employed by Philip Roth when beginning and ending chapters in The
Human Stain,
re-writing a portion of a chapter to turn into my
workshop and writing, you know, this blog, but the deadline is the
major looming thing in my life this week. The deadline rules. And
this stresses me out.

Now, in my "writing life", I have written several blogs, columns, and
features about my procrastination issues. As my editors can surely
attest, they are more than well-documented. They are, perhaps, over-
documented. So this is not another recounting of the various
techniques I actively and passively employ to facilitate not writing
(examples I will not be giving: constantly getting up to refill my
water, organizing my books by author then re-organizing them by
genre, typing 200 words worth of swear words or catch phrases,
etc.) . No sir. Totally not that. Instead, I am attempting to examine
the psychology behind my dangerous and job-threatening need to
procrastinate. Because if we can get under the hood and take a look--
to use a semi-incompatible cliche--maybe this baby will finally drive
right. Onward self-examination!

Reason 1: I need the pressure to focus.
Analysis: Because I wait till the last moment to do things, I like to
leave myself with little to no choice about whether or not I can work
because--if I know I have time-- I will then rationalize doing
something else, usually involving Netflix. Pressure leaves me no
wiggle room, which forces me into a corner, which unleashes my
creative side, which is something to behold a 4 AM. This excuse may
have some legs.
What My Dad Would Say: You are lazy and unbecoming of the Alexander
What My Mom Would Say: I'm very proud of you, but I want you to get
more sleep.

Reason 2: I have an acute fear of failure and/or not knowing what I'm

Analysis: Every time I sit down to begin another article/blog/
chapter, I am stricken with the thoughts that I can't do it, I can't
possibly pull off something again, that I will never write (blank)
like the last (blank) that I wrote, and that I shouldn't even bother,
and I should just get an internship at an Art Gallery.
What My Dad Would Say: You're not a closer. And an internship at an
Art Gallery sounds unpaid.
What My Mom Would Say: You're the best writer ever, but I want you to
get more sleep.

Reason 3: If someone else is doing something, I need to also be doing
that thing.

Analysis: Like most people who spend their days locked up with their
thoughts, I get lonely, even (or especially) when surrounded by
hippies., which makes me susceptible to--like the title of R&B group
'Nuttin Nice's song says-- being "down for whateva". Also, people
with 9-5 jobs don't "think I do anything all day", and always call me
when they a) have a day off, b) want to go out during the week, c)
want to do something stupid like go to Europe for 4 months, and can't
find any takers. Of course, when I say "people with 9-5 jobs", i mean
my friend Casey.
What My Dad Would Say: If your friends jumped off the Tobin Bridge
and into a low paying, non-health benefits filled "sea" of self-
doubt, would you? Oh God, don't answer that.
What My Mom Would Say: You're very unique, but I want you to get more

Reason 4: I'm just lazy.
Analysis: Maybe I'm just lazy.
What My Dad Would Say: Yep. You nailed it.
What My Mom Would Say: I agree with your father.

Anyway, I don't have time for this. I have to go stress about my
deadline while watching a documentary about the rise of R&B on VH1
Soul. I'm up to the part where they talk to Boyz II Men about Jodeci.
Feel free to leave your own reasons as to why you think you
procrastinate in a little something the Internet 2.0 likes to call
the Comment(z) section and I'll try and update you on how things turn
out. Let's get this money.

You (live)

Boyz II Men