The Perks of Planning a Project

Round Tuit

I’m a dab hand at procrastination. An absolute whizz. Always have been. Years ago, my beloved Dad bought me a plate identical to the one in the picture. I was delighted. No, seriously, I was. The accuracy made me laugh. A school essay or university thesis would always be left to stew until the last reasonable moment to commit pen to paper.

Even today, my long-suffering husband regularly claims that nothing happens in our house until one of my I’m-gonna-get-around-to-its is promoted to project status. A home improvement idea remains exactly that until an undefined and sometimes entirely unanticipated nano moment when I cannot bear that wall covering, paint or carpet colour a single moment longer. Which is also the moment when the impact from a starting pistol ricochets around the household, all heck breaks loose and the family dives for cover.

Right now our kitchen walls are the butt of my displeasure. White is so last weekend and the chocolate stains from a hot fondue gone doolally are definitely last year. What about raspberry, pale green or vanilla walls? Need to buy the paint by Thursday so I can revamp on Friday. Decisions, decisions. And what about tools? Because obviously the maple wood kitchen counters need sanding and re-oiling. Must add sandpaper to the list. And ooh! How about staining the maple kitchen table? Never stained before. Must google or ask a pal. Fun! What colour? Now adding brushes and stain to the list.

I get to visit the hardware store and check out gadgets. Toy with the idea of changing the cabinet door handles, consider new curtains. My body is rearing to go without ever leaving the house.

An old maxim claims a change is as good as a rest. I heartily agree. The health boost is positively tangible. I can feel the happy hormones dancing from my brain to my itching fingertips. Waking up to the possible and achievable means leaping out of bed with an impatient urge to get on with the transformable. And that ultimate litmus test: noting your coffee consumption has nosedived through lack of inclination to waste good research time brewing a fresh pot, is as red as the palette I’ve decided not to use.

For me, a plan of the non-writing variety usually involves an aspect of change but the reverse can also be true. A project can just as easily involve preserving the past, such as organising the backlog of digital photographs we all load onto our hard disks with scant consideration for cataloguing — or at least not right now — or building a photo book of memories. I’ve done the latter twice. Worked through several nights. Had a blast. Fatigue kicked in with knock out velocity the minute the books were uploaded for printing.

It’s also fun to plan and create something entirely new and untried: such as designing a knitting project or cultivating sour dough. I did the former last autumn and am planning to try my hand at bread baking when I get around to it sometime this spring.

But I’m also starting to discern the distinct difference between procrastination and not ready.

Some ideas are simply not ripe to be sown let alone reaped. I’m wholly convinced that my mind is subconsciously exploring options and choices while my body and brain are screaming not now, not yet, too tired, too boring, too expensive, too problematic. Too soon.

This was definitely the case with my novel. I can pinpoint the exact moment I decided to write it. The premise and plot evolved gradually, but the decision to write was instantaneous and inexplicably pressing. And yet, no. It wasn’t. I’ve been saying for years that I have novels brewing. I had a slew of mental notes to turn to, a bevy of ideas to test for viability. I spent the first weeks downloading my mental hard disk to pads and notebooks, virtual or spiral bound with pretty covers. I began to research and outline with organised gusto.

And the physical reaction was the same. My body relaxed as my mind raced with excitement. At the end of the day, fatigue was healthy and weirdly desirable.

And this is what I learned.

The best projects will start without prompting when they are good and ready.
The best projects are very exciting to research, plan and prepare.
The best projects provide a healthy energy boost and a brand new reason to get up early on a Sunday morning.
And they provide a fulfilling need to crash into bed ready for a good night’s sleep.

I need a new clock stating “Any Minute Now”. Then when it chimes, people will know it’s time to dive.

I’m off to the paint shop.



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