I’ve recently been chatting to Bethany Jo Lee from Project Whitespace (congratulations on your first blog-birthday!) about returning to drawing, a past love of mine. She’s been encouraging me to just do it!
But I feel completely frozen. I would actually say I have procrastinated for YEARS over drawing again. Every morning I wake up and think I really want to do some drawing today. But I simply never do it! I have the time and the tools, so why can’t I just get on with it?
Anxiety, Perfectionism & Procrastination.
I came across an article about Anxiety & Procrastination which identifies procrastination as a feature of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but which is rooted in Perfectionism.
Perfectionism has been my constant companion through life. I have this deep-rooted need in me to be the best at everything I do. If I begin drawing and I judge it as not good enough, I immediately feel disappointed and rejected by myself, so give up. Then I get angry with myself for even trying to draw because I know I’ll only do rubbish. I blame myself for the disappointment.
But now I realise I just want to draw, have fun with it, and express myself. I judge anything I come up with so much more harshly than anybody else’s efforts. Drawing has turned into an anxiety-filled experience now. My inner critic is really mean and cutting in her remarks. It hurts…..a lot.
Plan of Action
Yesterday I wrote about mastering my mind because at the moment I’m letting it runaway with me and am getting completely lost in self-criticism, which verges on self-abuse. I think I’ve always believed that that’s how I am and I can’t do anything about it. I’ve changed my mind; I think I can stop the self-criticism, I just have to put in the effort. So here is my plan of action:
– Structure my day with short drawing sessions- maybe even fifteen minute slots to start with. That way I can easily achieve it and feel I have completed a goal. I’ve taken away the fear of a mammoth task ahead of me.
– Prepare some reference photos to draw from in advance, so I don’t spend ages working out what to draw.
– Keep a notebook by me to jot down any negativity that pops into my head. That way I’m aware of the thought processes so I’ll be in a good space to challenge them.
– Aim for quantity not quality to start with, as the actual act of drawing is what I’m aiming for at the moment- that is where I’m currently stuck. Doing some good quality work will have to come later. I could give myself the target of completing 3 sketches in a day?
– Maybe write out a little card with an affirmation or quote on, to keep me going when I start to flag (any suggestions would be most welcome :)).
Shouty, Mean Teachers!
I constantly worry about screwing up. My brain has been so programmed to care about what others think, and to be the best, that it completely overwhelms me. I wonder if there’s a little bit of teacher-fear still left in me from my school days. We had a dragon of a deputy head-teacher at my Catholic primary school. She put the fear of God into us. If something was rubbish she’d say so: what’s this rubbish girl? What would your mother say? she’d shout and slam the book down infront of you. All the class would be watching. The silence was electric. It was humiliating and scary. Kids would get smacked infront of the class if they were naughty. Being a super-sensitive type, school made me super-anxious. So, yeah, maybe that deputy-head’s voice is still programmed into my mind. Stupid, miserable, shouty woman. At least I’ll be able to identify it now and shout back!
This is a fab article: How to Let Go of Fear to LIve Passionately and Authentically.
Anxiety & Procrastination on Psych Central.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Procrastination on about.com.
Procrastination, Anxiety and the Ugly Truth About “Just Starting”. on Mindful Time Management.
Why Do You Procrastinate? on Psychology Today.
Break A Perfectionism and Procrastination Connection Now by Psychology Today
Avoiding the Challenges of Gifted Perfectionism on Suite 101.
Photo Credit: luigi diamanti