Some writers think procrastination is the same as being blocked. Some call procrastination thinking.
I’ve just watched a Ted Talk by Adam Grant called ‘Surprising Habits of Original Thinkers.’ He conducted a study which makes a strong case for the procrastination-as-thinking camp.
Grant is a self-professed ‘precrastinator’, a term I hadn’t heard before but I certainly recognise the type. You know the students who submit their work long before the due date, or the writers who send their stories away to competitions or publications almost before the ink is dry.
Grant’s study shows precrastinators are in such a hurry to complete their tasks they don’t give their minds time to come up with new, different and more creative ideas.
But if you’re a dire-hard committed procrastinator don’t pat yourself on the back just yet. If you never get around to writing that story, poem or novel it’s hard to see any originality and creativity.
Grant’s study shows that people who come up with more creative and original ideas-
- allow ideas to simmer in their minds for a while before they do anything about them. This gives them time to come up with divergent ideas, to think in new ways, to make unexpected leaps.
- generate more ideas – more bad ideas but also more good ones.
- suffer the same doubts as anyone else, both self-doubt and doubts about the validity of their ideas, but they try to skip the self-doubt and use the idea-doubts to look for better options.
- fear failure, too, but they fear failing to try more. They recognise that we regret the things we fail to do more than the things we do.
So next time you find yourself procrastinating it could just be that there’s a whole lot of simmering going on in the back of your mind.
And while you’re procrastinating why don’t you check out Grant’s Ted Talk. It’s funny and informative.
Let me know what you think.