Compassion and writing procrastination

Tara, Tibetan Goddess of Compassion, loves you even if you procrastinate on your novel. Still, she'd love to see you finish it.

Procrastination has a bad rep in American culture and in many others as well. The Catholic Church identified sloth as one of the seven deadly sins, so it’s pretty easy to feel judgmental toward yourself or others if deliverables aren’t produced on time. Terms like ‘lazy bum” come to mind.

What is the role of compassion and self-compassion with a so-called deadly sin like this? Sloth has been described as the failure to utilize one’s talents and gifts, and one could argue that this is behavior that warrants criticism, not compassion. I mean, wouldn’t the acceptance and appreciation involved in a compassionate response just serve as reinforcement for the slacking?

Blocked writers often wrestle with guilt, and can be harsher on themselves than others are. Brutally so at times. In my experience, such guilt is a misguided attempt to unblock through self-castigation. This approach is problematic because it sucks away the energy and confidence you need in order to write. I view excessive guilt about procrastinating as an unhelpful mental habit that usually has evolved from bad experiences in the past, that we have attached to our writing process.

How about we all try to forgive ourselves for not being what we’ve been told we should be, and engage in our passion from a more positive foundation? You can desire more productivity in your writing, and find ways to realize that, without hating yourself.

Now, it may come to pass that a friend, a colleague, a teacher, or even the uber-compassionate Tara will have to give you a kick in the pants from time to time; not because you’re a bad person, but because they care enough to try to wake you up. By choosing to write you have accepted a challenging adventure, and if you keep that in mind, maybe you can find a path that includes appreciation for your self as well as discipline and consistency.

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About David Arnot Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Mental health and writing blocks, The Blocked Writer's Book of the Dead, Tips for overcoming writer's block and procrastination and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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