For the past three months, one of my projects for my MFA has been a twenty-five-page critical paper. Everyone else in my cohort has finished. I am stuck. It’s due in four days. I have pretended to work on it daily, when in fact I have done everything but. What is going on?
Unfortunately, this place as a writer isn’t new for me and luckily whenever I recognize it, I use my favorite writer’s prompt, “What is it I really want to say?” It brings out my inner therapist: “Heather, this is your chance to say what you want, what is it?” Inevitably, words begin to flow and what is keeping me stuck is revealed. Even after all of these years, I am still surprised that the answer is more or less the same each: I am not sure it’s good enough.
When I asked my current paper what it was I really wanted to say, it didn’t take long for the familiar answer to reveal itself. I started my paper much later than my classmates. I like my topic so much I want to do more research. I’m not sure it’s good enough. Great. Now what?
I decided I need to dig deeper, “What do you need to do to keep writing?” I needed an extension, just a few more days to sit with my thoughts. By allowing my procrastination to speak, I realized what would make it possible for me to finish. I talked with my mentor and got an extra three days.
It isn’t always that easy, and an extension doesn’t always work, but keeping an open dialogue with your piece and yourself can sometimes remove the bluster of procrastination so you can get to your work.
Virtual Writing Center