I do it to myself.

  • First I start toying with graduate school.

  • Then I find a writing class which meets entirely online, save for two face to face sessions, thinking I’ll get my writing chops dusted off and tell whether I still enjoy doing it. The focus of the class isn’t quite exactly the kind of writing I’m aiming for, but I figure that any framework which has me writing regularly will be a good one.

  • The class is a little vague in its structure, and the feedback I get from the instructor and other students is positive but light on actual substance. The material covers concepts I’ve done before. I begin to feel like the class is a poor fit for me, and check out from it, emotionally.

  • I realize that the big paper for the class is coming up quickly, and combined with several projects coming due at work as well, immediately flashback to the panicky “holy crap, everything’s coming due at once” feeling I haven’t had since college. Anxiety galore. Since I’m already feeling like this final paper is going to be crap, I resist working on it. (since getting close to it makes me feel like crap, of course.)

  • I read a piece by Anne Lamott about writing shitty first drafts being an absolute necessity for her process, that she’d paralyse herself unless she just got something down on paper, something, anything at all.

  • With the first draft due Real Soon Now, I finally buckle down, go over the material I’ve gathered, and give myself permission to write a shitty first draft.

  • Once I actually start writing, the material starts becoming endearing and interesting again. I have some small glimmer of hope that this paper could be okay, or at least, not the dashed-off heap of crap I’ve been telling myself was inevitable. I begin to loosen up and have fun with it. It’s too bad I’ve left things until nearly the last minute.

  • I suddenly realize I HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS PROCESS BEFORE. I remember the procrastination, I remember the remembering that writing about something I’m interested in is actually pretty cool, and I remember the chagrin at (re)discovering it late. EVERY FREAKING TIME.

What have I learned, here? That I like writing, that I’m a horrendous procrastinator, that I’ve got a metric yitload of things to get done this week, that the writing lessons I’ve learned before may need to be relearned. Again.

Now, the nice thing is that the grade I get in this class really and truly Doesn’t Matter. Still and all, I’d like to get all I can out of it.