Procrastination – the mother of creativity

Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column about life, creativity and the world we live in, written by Taranaki artist Marita Green.

I’ve spent most of the last few days procrastinating. Procrastinating writing this. By prioritising any number of other tasks (making pots , folding laundry, lol-ing at memes of cats) ahead of writing. And now, finally, it’s the 11th hour.

Ask any creative and I’m sure they will relate to being a black-belt in the art of putting-it-off. I delay commissions until the hot breath of deadline is rasping down my neck. I teeter on the edge of an exhibition opening-date with last minute changes, round-the-clock kiln firings, pots being packed still warm. I bang out texts to anxious gallery owners saying don’t worry it’s all coming together very nicely, but no, I haven’t got any pics just yet.

When it comes to procrastination, it seems creatives have a lot in common with the average teenage boy. Unexpectedly, it’s through Celia Lashlie’s seminal book on the subject, He’ll Be Ok*, that I have come to better understand my own behaviour.

What is it about creatives and teenage boys?
Here’s the thought:
We actually require the thumb-screw pressure of a deadline to do the job.

Making something creatively, whether it’s a painting, a pot or a piece of prose, requires endless decision-making. We filter through an infinite number of artistic possibilities that constantly flux throughout the process, and there is no boss or blue-print to reel us in. It is this unbridled freedom, what I absolutely live for in my life as a potter, that can also hamstring me.

But a time crunch – give me a decent time crunch and the stress of impending failure crystalises my creative process like nothing else.  I’m suddenly able to move ahead because I know I don’t have the luxury of maybe this or maybe that.

The ideas that seemed legit a week or two ago drop away as ridiculous frivolity. In that pressure-cooker moment, my gut intuition forces the treadmill of endless options to switch off, and we all merrily arrive at the destination of…

Finished.

Until we meet again, procrastination my friend.

*He’ll Be Ok, Celia Lashlie, Harper Collins 2005

Throw Pots Not People is a fortnightly column about life, creativity and the world we live in, written by Taranaki artist Marita Green. You can follow Marita on Instagram.