I’m my own biggest obstacle

A challenge I’ve continuously faced in my writing career is the fear of starting. You will never see me arriving late anywhere, yet this concept of being early seems to fall short in the academic realm of submitting assignments. I am a notorious procrastinator. I marvel at people’s ability to start drafts weeks in advance. I’m jealous of people who aren’t awake at 3am the day a paper is due while I’m half-consciously adding finishing touches.

For example, last semester I was in an English class that informed in the syllabus us we could write an extra credit essay that would be due a couple of weeks before the final. Over the course of the semester, I knew I needed to do it, but there was always something that seemed more pressing. And there I was at 11pm the night before it was due, finishing Dante’s Inferno. I proceeded to write a three and a half page paper, not going to sleep until 3:30am. (Fun fact, I left my keys at the apartment and had to call my cousin to come let me into the building because my roommate was asleep.)

                                                                (How I felt finishing the paper)

I know that for this class I will have far too much to do to leave it to the last minute. I’ve spent more than a week trying to determine the pieces I want to include, formatting them into PowerPoint, excel, and word documents. I’ve gone over the preliminary things multiple times but find myself struggling to get into the real meat of the project. I’m not exactly what I’m afraid of… Messing up? Not being interesting? Not being able to execute what I set out to do? Maybe jumping right in to research will help getting over this fear? (I feel that fear is not the right word.) I just need to figure out how to get out of my own way.

3 thoughts to “I’m my own biggest obstacle”

  1. Mollie,
    Do not fear. I am in the same exact boat with getting started on my capstone project. Everything seemed to be going fine until I arrived back on campus after spring break and had an overwhelming realization of how much I still needed to do before I graduate in April. I often procrastinate as well, but understand that for this project, procrastinating can only go on for so long before it’s detrimental to the final product. I have since kicked it into high gear and sent out numerous emails for my interviews, set up a few of them already, and began doing more research. People say it’s bad to procrastinate but isn’t there something to be said about working well under pressure? I usually hate myself for it but I do some of my best work when I know I am running out of time to complete it.

  2. Dear Mollie,
    I am definitely in the same boat where actually getting started seems so hard. I like how you made the comparison with arriving places early. While I too try to never be late, starting assignments late is different because it only impacts you, whereas showing up late is inconsiderate to other people (and also makes a scene sometimes). I always think that future me will be better equipped or energized to complete work, when really that is just putting more stress on it to have less time to deliberate.
    On the other hand, I like to think of waiting to start an assignment as more time for research. Ideas come to me at the most random times and places and sometimes waiting to start allows for more inspiration! Although I have the tendency to procrastinate there has never been a time where I have turned in an assignment past the deadline, and I’m sure that’s the same for you.

  3. Hey Mollie,

    Now that I have seen where you have gone with your project since this blog post, I can’t do much else but laugh. Because (hey!) you did it– you started. And you have made a great amount of progress. I can see how you get roadblocked though, since your site still needs a good chunk of writing. You put a lot of your initial energy into the art pieces, the layout, etc. And that’s okay! You seem to compartmentalize and take things as they come. Since you are creating an interactive site, other things are more important to solidify before you start the actual writing. Since you are a writer (one that seems to work best under pressure), it may also be okay that you save this part for last.

    You definitely are not afraid either. When you say “fear” is inaccurate, I agree. You are just a busy-body with tons of ideas and responsibilities all happening at the same time. Priorities are never the same for everyone and I find it okay to procrastinate if you need to or function best that way. Personally, that’s not me, but that is YOU. Maybe you need to start thinking about how to better hone this skill/ability (haha). Or maybe you can create a process through which your prioritizing better functions. How does that sound? Reigning in the chaos?

    Best,
    Amanda

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