Journaling out Procrastination for the Unmotivated Mouse
I’ve recently undertaken a watercolour project. The aim of the watercolour project was to learn how to use watercolours. I intended to start from the basics in my watercolour project, to enjoy myself and to have a playful attitude and method. I recently wrote about this in Goals Galore 2. But as is said;
‘the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry’ Robert Burns
Ofcourse I went into my usual learning style – a structured step by step course.
Whilst the course was good quality and should have been fun within itself, I had to wonder why I didn’t feel motivated in my new watercolour project.
So what is Procrastination?
Have you ever felt this way, that you were somehow supposed to be motivated and enjoying something new? But you didn’t have the energy to do it? In-fact you couldn’t quite get yourself sat down ready to start?
I was procrastinating, a common experience I often have. Procrastination in its simplest terms means ‘The action of delaying or postponing something’ (Oxford English Dictionary Online)
For example, you may notice that when you don’t want to do something, so you will do something else (like that room that’s’ been a mess for ages suddenly needs urgent tidying, those dished suddenly need doing) or do nothing but think that you don’t want to do, with an inner conversation with the inner critic (I don’t want to do this, but you HAVE to you said you would do this, but now I don’t want to, tough get on with it).
Procrastinating on things you should want to do
The thing with procrastination and art (or writing) is that the activity is suppose to be fun, a hobby or at least something that we think we should want to do. So it feels so counterintuitive that we procrastinate and say that we don’t want to do it. But even if its work-based and we are committed to doing it sometimes we just ‘go-around-the-houses’ before we eventually reluctantly (and often begrudgingly) MAKE ourselves do it. Or is that just me?
Why didn’t I feel ready in to embrace something I enjoy? It’s was the new year, we’re supposed to be wired up and ready to start our new goals! Yey! Er no, that didn’t seem to happen to me. I can’t go from 0 (of Christmas Chilling out) to 90 (getting on with all my projects merrily), when the clock strikes twelve, or even the days after apparently. And have you noticed that there are a lot of ‘supposed’ to’s in life that don’t actually live up to the test of reality. ‘Supposed tos’ are very similar to ‘shoulds’ in that they are demands your inner-critic makes that aren’t very helpful in practice.
So I did what any journal-obsessed person would do, stopped journaling about my everyday issues to avoid the situation for a while! Yep I did, until one day enough was enough, my brain was foggy and bogged down with stuff. I’d done all the what was I feeling today journaling I could do. And the answer was the same every day, of which politely put can’t be bothered. Luckily I noticed that there was a pattern to my days, so something had to give way.
Journaling it out technique
So I pondered this in my journal. I have made a commitment with myself that I would not procrastinate without exploring the reasons behind the procrastination. I asked myself the following questions in my journal:
Question 1: What’s wrong? Why am I postponing this? What’s wrong with doing the project now? What’s not working at the moment and why? What do I know about the situation? Are there any other factors that may be leading to procrastination?
[Note: as always I am stating the language that I use, you may need to change the way you say the question to yourself, so it’s more meaningful to get your answers].
Rather than thinking there is something wrong with me (a self-destructive type of thinking), I looked at the situation. For me , the issue was overanalysis, overthinking and not much intuitive (following my flow) action. Coupled with something situational such as the dark nights and short days. This lead to my unmotivation, I just didn’t feel like it, it seemed like a chore rather than a fun project.
Question 2: What’s right? What am I currently doing in my life at the moment? What’s working at the moment? What are the small things in my life that I am doing now?
I always need to ask this question as I need to counteract the negative thinking in my first question. In reality there is nothing wrong with me. I need to focus on the positive things I’m doing even if they are just small. Each thing takes up a little bit of energy and I may not be doing this project because I am doing something else instead. Self-compassion is key. I often forget that I have at least three other projects on the go at one time, as well as my daily routine and activities.
Question 3: The final question is how can I change slightly or make it a bit easier to deal the reasons behind what’s not working in Question 1? I do create with other projects, but I think I’m being a bit too structured in the project that am doing. Therefore I decided to take a more playful approach to the project (that’s what I’d actually decided to do in the beginning but I’d forgotten that). I decided to spend twenty minutes just playing with watercolour rather than watching lessons, I decided to only watch lessons that were short or had the same approach [playful that I wanted to take].
Funnily enough when I decide to take this approach I suddenly was bombarded by fun watercolour projects that were linked to two projects that I already committed to (i.e. Lifebook 2018 and 2017 365 Activate your art brain). So I didn’t have to look very far. It kinda shows me that sometimes you need not to change the project, but change the attitude you have around the project. I said it would be playful at the beginning in my plan but I didn’t have a very playful attitude around it so that needed to change.
Maybe you need to remind yourself why you are doing the project and have a playful/experimental approach which is flexible to your needs at that moment. Either way there is no point mentally beating yourself up when procrastination comes knocking at your door. What you actually need to do is give yourself a bit of self-compassion and focus on what you are doing right and what you can currently do to improve your situation. Maybe you’re going to be doing the project, but the way that you will be doing it just hasn’t shown up yet.
PLAYFUL Watercolour projects to consider:
Watercolour words affirmation cards or quote cards (put watercolour randomly on the page and write over the watercolour when dry).
Watercolour doodles (add pen doodles when the dry).
Try drawing characters or shapes in watercolour without outlining them first. Or finding characters in your artwork, (this dragon shape, wing and body appeared in my artwork so I went with it).
Thanks for reading and good luck with all your projects! Please sign up to the newsletter if you liked this post, where you will get access to lots of freebies to help with your journaling and art journaling.