Procrastination – writing and art

It is now February or it will be when this post goes live. I have been riding through the January blues. I have blue fingers and toes due to cold and snowy weather. Blue emotions due to grey days, the heavy world of a pandemic and politics. These are the dull blues – the blues that are more grey – steely blue, deep cold blue hidden under snow mounds, the muddy blues that leave you stuck in your chair.

I often fall into these blues in late January – I am an outside girl but the hard cold makes it difficult to do much out there right now. When there are days on end when temperatures do not rise over 10 degrees and the wind dropping it even lower it is hard on everyone. As I get older the added ice on the sidewalks and paths also make me hesitant to venture far from my home. (Although I will say a good jogging stroller and Little Man have kept me upright on many an icy path this winter. (A bit like the walker my Mother use to use. Ok, now I am feeling way too old. Forget that statement!)

So how does this all fit into the word Procrastination?

When the weather turns blue I try to keep busy inside but … I have my writing and now my drawing and painting (truth be told I am only drawing right now – painting will come later I am sure of it.) But here is where procrastination takes over!

I have gathered my writing pens, set up my journal and cleaned up my desk. I have nice containers for my drawing pencils and paint brushes. There are new kneaded erasers ready for use. My new Perpetual Drawing Journal is dated as well as my drawing practice notebook is there and ready. My garden notebook is out and paper for planning the spring garden beds are there as well.

Then I have watched and listened to tons of podcasts – writing podcast, books reviews, artists and writers talking about their process or showing their studios. I have read a series of memoirs from creative people and gathered garden books from the library. I have surrounded myself with books, supplies and peoples thoughts but I have not done the work.

Funny how one can feel frustrated with not improving but then realize I am not doing the work – I am just decorating the space and filling my head with others ideas.

I decided to write about it here to name my procrastination. I decided to make a commitment to myself to not buy any more art supplies or journals until the ones I have are used up and journals full. I have decided to make a commitment to myself to leave the books, podcast and blogs alone no matter how much fun they are. They are part of consuming not creating.

I have decided to tell a small community of blogging friends (that’s where you guys come in) about my decision with the hopes that making a public statement will add a bit of weight to my thinking. I will have (if only in my own mind) a group of people who might hold me accountable. Might ask me once in a while “so what is happening in the drawing journal? Did you draw this week?”

Do I really expect you people to check back in with me? No, not really – but sometime it is helpful to just say it out loud for someone to hear. An example of this is a young man who decided to bike from Oregon to Patagonia. I know crazy, but he did. He told all his friends and kept talking about it so he then felt he really needed to do it. And he did. (If you want to know more of that story you can read – To Shake A Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins. This is one of my side track memoir readings but a was great story.)

I had another friend who decided to paint a small picture daily for one year and post them on Facebook. It was amazing to watch the development of her painting through out the year. She made a public commitment to help her follow through with a desire to develop her skills and to just enjoy the act of painting. A public commitment can be a good thing, I think.

Now as February begins I will begin to work on my drawing and garden plans. Writing will happen because I plan to post each week here and there is always the March writing challenge that will keep me honest during that month. As I work my way through this decision I hope to be brave enough to share some of my drawings as I go. I have posted a few in the past but it is not something I feel very comfortable with. So this is a big step for me.

My personal expectations of myself and my skills tend to be way out of proportion. I want to be really good right away. It is hard to be a beginner. I have written about that many times since retiring and here I am again processing this work as a beginner.

Have you felt that moment when things have changed and you are on the edge of beginning again? You are starting something new in your life and you are not sure where it will lead or even if it is the right direction but off you go working your way day by day into a new way of being.

Some of us we jump at that chance and go dancing into the new world around us. Others hang back not sure of their footing and preferring to spend another day or two under the covers thinking things through. Then there are people like me who start by gathering the supplies, the information and look like they are moving ahead when really they are stuck needing one more nudge to move on.

So here is my nudge to myself to get busy – put away the extra reading, put my butt down in the chair, pick up the pencil and go to work.

White Pine and Strawflowers – summer sun and winter green – My drawing begins with a study of evergreens in pencil. I had to throw in flowers just because it is Feb 2 and we are hoping for spring – not sure what the groundhog has decided!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to Procrastination – writing and art

  1. jennjeps says:

    There is something about winter that sparks creativity; it isn’t all gloom and doom.

  2. Ramona says:

    Love this post. It’s so easy to spend time on getting ready to do something instead of doing it. I loved your little check box – later, now. I’m happy to be your accountability partner! Love the drawing you shared.

  3. Yes, I’m much like you in that I often need a nudge. I want to write, draw and paint, instead I procrastinate. I need the directive, butt in chair and the simple checklist!

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