Summer Procrastination Part 1 by Devon Miller-Duggan

I’ve been trying to figure out my work patterns for years now. The procrastination part I get fine. It’s very clearly genetic—my father was a genius procrastinator, and I’m not bad, either. I got through college, essentially, by futzing around all week (sewing, writing poems, playing chess, modelling nude for art-major friends, reading anything that wasn’t on a syllabus) and then doing all my work in one wild all-nighter every week. I’m sure it accounted for a slight under-achievement (though I was mostly on the Dean’s List). And, God knows, being able to “pull it together” hard and fast is a skill that serves most adult lives pretty profoundly.

Nope. The patterns I’m confused by are the ones that involve dealing with major change from periods of externally regulated patterns (a vacation, the semester) to periods in which my long to-do lists and firm resolutions dissipate into paralysis for days/weeks (depends on what sort of loose time we’re talking about) in which I can do very little except whatever my self-soothing drugs of the moment are (genre fiction, word games on the computer, facebook, even making dozens and dozens of pairs of earrings for the church bazaar, grandkids) before I finally batter myself into getting back to both the to-do list and writing. This makes no sense, since I figured out the equation that I feel human and worth the air I breathe when I’m writing and don’t when I’m not. The pattern varies in duration and intensity according to my levels of stress/exhaustion/depression, but it stays steady in form. For years, I alternated between loathing myself and drowning in confusion about how a person other people generally view as dynamic, and accomplished could be such a slug-like, self-destructive ass. It kind of goes without saying that that sort of thinking just exacerbated the whole mess.

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