Monday, July 26, 2010



Procrastination is self-sabotage. Even though we knows this and most of us don't like to procrastinate on art, yet we still do it. Whether we start the art on Sunday or Wednesday, it is almost always done minutes before deadline.Why is that? Psychologists say that procrastination is an avoidance of pain. Why are we so afraid of our art? Why is it painful to do art? and NOT to do art? Given how society views art, Seal is not surprised at these paralyzing fears.

Have you ever heard of the phrase,"starving artist?" Or how about, "artists are crazy, self-absorbed, over indulgent, selfish, selfish." Where did we get that? If you live on planet earth, then probably from our parents, our parents' friends, teachers, students, our peers, our co-workers. While a typical high school program grooms their young-ins in biology, English, or math, art is seen as an elective (and only the nerds, crazies, or indie kids take art!). Artists are already filled with doubts and fears before they begin, so it's not surprising that we stare at the blank canvas and a week has gone by before any mark is made.

Procrastination is not born, but learned. The Procrastinating artist is avoiding some sort of pain. There are three main categories of procrastination:
  1. They want the rush of a deadline. They feel they are not creative otherwise.
  2. They want to avoid failure or success, or any kind of visibility.
  3. They don't want to make a decision on (what subjects to paint, what color, what to say in their canvas) so they can be absolved of any consequence and responsibility of the outcome (look what you have made).
Seal guesses that most artists who procrastinate have had to deal with shame. (How dare you make that art? Who do you think you are to create? You think you can actually be a successful artist? get real.) Any bad crit, look, or comment, can trigger such fears to the point that the artist will put off working on anything unless they absolutely have to.

Procrastination is the artists' last resort. To run away. To hide. To put off the canvas for another day. If you are a procrastinator, I'm sure people have probably already told you: "get a planner" "learn time management" "be more strict with your time" etc. etc.

Although the above suggestions help, Seal would like to also propose the following approach:
If you think you are struggling with one of the above issues: Congratulations. Admitting it is already a big step. Here are some things to keep in mind: 1) Since procrastination is learned, it can be unlearned. It will take time (no pun intended), but the payoff is your freedom. 2). Procrastinators don't like what they are doing and most (if not all) would like to change their behavior. (So no need to tell them "they need to change," etc. they know). Now here is the big secret, it's scary, but you can do it. And even the best time management courses do not cover this, and yet it can help you breakthrough your procrastination: you need to find out WHY you are procrastinating. What are you avoiding? Why are you in pain when you do art? Who or What has caused this pain?

Finally, what eases the pain? What makes it better? What makes you feel safe to create? Get more of it.

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