By Eden Boudreau
It’s just shy of midnight and I’m sitting here, writing this, thinking about how I should have started it sooner. But if I had started it sooner, would it have been finished before now?
If this question makes your brain feel like warm jelly sloshing around a warped Tupperware container, you my dear, might not need to read on.
If it made complete sense, and you’re now impatiently waiting for me to get to the point before you get distracted googling the history of herbal remedies for procrastination, you are a writer - and probably a little neurodivergent, like myself.
You will probably rejoice even harder when I tell you that I am writing this in the notepad app of my phone, by only the light of the screen because as I was drifting off into a fitful sleep, the words finally came to me. The ones I had been waiting for all week. The ones that allude me nearly every single time I sit down at my laptop and mercilessly mock me from the corners of my mind.
I’d like to say the combined stress of releasing my first book with huge life changes, navigating motherhood and holding dearly to my own self-identity have contributed to this persistent procrastination problem.
But that, would be a lie.
Truth is, deadlines and I have never meshed well, even though schedules and routine are possibly two of my favourite things. They are also imperative when it comes to keeping my ADHD in check. And yet, here we are, arriving at procrastination station yet again.
Now, this could be a self-serving introspective look at my bad habits but since you’re here, at the station with me, why don’t we ask the question on all our minds:
Why do we writers, especially those neurodivergent folks, continue to procrastinate even when it causes us heaps of anxiety?
Well, and I’m sure this isn’t the first time we’ve all heard this, it's probably because most of us are doom-spiraling-perfectionists!
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Writers are inherently this odd dichotomy of imposter syndrome and fusspots (as my grandmother would have said). We genuinely, whole heartedly believe that nothing we produce will ever be good enough to stand alongside the literary greats that came before us, and yet, we are the ones who set the bar so obscenely high for our writing that there is no human way we would ever reach it anyhow.
It's this self-sabotaging mental ping pong game that, for some of us, puts the brakes on writing because - if it can’t be perfect, then why even bother starting? So, instead of spending our time romanticizing the words out of our brain and on to the page, we focus on all the existing work out in the world that doesn’t belong to us but surely, must be so much greater because it exists. Right? Wrong.
Because, guess what? That work was garbage at one point too.
All the great literary legends? Yeah, their first drafts were nothing to brag about. Which is why they kept writing, and writing, and writing until they found their rhythm and the right words found their way to the page.
And sometimes that looks like weeks of painfully slow progress. Sometimes it looks like a chaotic eight hours before your pages are due. I can’t say that one process is better than the other because the reality is, even with unlimited amounts of time, our little lizard brains will find something to be anxious about. So instead, I suggest we use some of the energy that is carelessly thrown into putting ourselves down and use it to be kinder to our poor little creative hearts.
Remind it, that it’s doing its best. And that in its own time, it will get where it is meant to go.
The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.
Eden Boudreau, (she/her) a lifelong maritimer, relocated from Halifax, NS to southern Ontario in 2016 with her family. It was at this time when she decided to finally pursue her dream of becoming a published author.
Using her own life experiences as a bisexual, polyamorous woman who has survived her fair share of adversity as inspiration, Eden’s essays have been published in major publications such as Flare, Today’s Parent, and Runner’s World Magazine.
As someone who has openly battled mental health issues, Eden was inspired during the isolation of the pandemic to launch her own podcast, Dear Lonely Writer. A show that interviews best selling authors from around the world and discusses the emotional labour that often comes with the writing process – before, during, and even after the book deal.
Her debut memoir, CRYING WOLF from Book*Hug Press arrives on shelves March 22 2023, which follows her difficult road to recovery after a violent sexual assault, with disbelievers at every turn due in part to her non-traditional lifestyle.
In her (minimal) free time, Eden spends it with her three sons, menageries of pets – including a duck named Dave – at their home in Georgina, ON.