Despite the constant caveats from teachers and professors over the years, I’ve found—in my writing—that there are merits to procrastination. I’ve attempted to flesh out drafts weeks before the due date, and I’ve also found myself with nothing written a day before the deadline. Given this hefty sample size, the latter cases have actually produced stronger work. The best reason I can think of for this apparent contradiction is the laser focus lent to me by an impending deadline.
This habit has become a sort of ritual for me. A couple days before a deadline, I’ll spend a few hours considering the prompt, looking over the necessary materials, and marinating on ideas and how much of a pain in the ass tomorrow’s going to be. The next day, it’s straight to a quiet place with a coffee, water, and a pack of gum. With no choice but to come out the other end with a paper, I get to work. This urgency provides a stimulus for clear thought and thorough attention to detail. Even so, the shortcomings of procrastination remain: it diminishes my ability to rewrite, rethink, or revise a piece. This issue has proven my biggest obstacle to reaching my full potential in academic writing.
Going forward, I’m convinced that the only way to salvage these missed opportunities for revision is through self-imposed deadlines. If I can find a way to convince myself that my deadline is five days before the actual due date, then I might be able to channel the focus of working against the clock while giving myself a chance to look back over my work a few days later. The only problem with this technique would be enforcing this artificial deadline. If I know in the back of my mind that missing my self-imposed deadline doesn’t have any tangible consequences, I’ll be tempted to miss it. Missing a class deadline, on the other hand, means an F. If anyone has an idea for a way to enforce a fake deadline, I’m all ears… until then, I’ll probably keep putting it off.