Procrastination and Impulsiveness: When Great Ideas Come to Call

I have never been a procrastinator. I usually do not put off for tomorrow what I can do today. I usually turn my assignments in early and I never had to pull an all-nighter in college. Except, for right now.

I pitched an idea to a blog sometime last year. It was so long ago I didn’t even remember it when they emailed me a few weeks ago and said they’d like me to write it. I looked at the words I pitched, not a complete article, just a paragraph, and liked what I saw. But I had no recollection of them.

I knew they were mine based on the content, but I couldn’t remember what else I thought I might write about to stretch the one paragraph into a full article of more than 1,000 words. I searched on my computer drive hoping I had been super prepared and actually had written the article, or at least a few points already, but found nothing.

But I figured it couldn’t be that hard to come up with the extra words. I could easily write that in an hour or so and have my article turned in well in advance of my deadline. So when I sat down and started writing I was surprised to find it was harder than I expected. I only came up with about 500 words and didn’t have anything else to say.

In the weeks since I have opened up the article I started and tried to work on the piece some more, but I haven’t progressed much. It’s a pretty boring article right now and I’m not sure how to come up with the additional words. In the time I have written, polished, and submitted a few other pieces (including blog posts), but I keep ignoring the one I’m supposed to be working on.


I am very much aware of my own double self. The well-known one is very under control; everything is planned and very secure. The unknown one can be very unpleasant. I think this side is responsible for all the creative work – he is in touch with the child. He is not rational; he is impulsive and extremely emotional.

Ingmar Bergman

I woke up the other morning in a cold sweat, wondering if I had missed my deadline, thankful that I still had more time. I vowed to finish it that day, but only looked at it for a few minutes before I was on to something else. It just isn’t inspiring me as I suppose it was when I pitched the short paragraph so many months before.

And that’s the problem. I sometimes get so inspired that I don’t procrastinate enough. I probably wrote that paragraph as it came to me in a rush, polishing it, and then sending it off to the publication so quickly that I didn’t think about what was next. I was in such a hurry I didn’t even track the pitch as I normally do through my normal record keeping process.

It’s the opposite of procrastination: impulsivity. A better approach would be to land somewhere in the middle. If I had taken more time, I would have made at least a few notes on how I thought the article would play out. That way if I was given the opportunity to write it, I wouldn’t have to struggle to remember what I was thinking.

I still have a few weeks to figure it out, and hopefully the creative spark will come to me again, In the future I’ll have to remember to write down what I was thinking when I have a great idea.

What about you? Are you impulsive or do you put things off? Or are you somewhere in between?

18 comments

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  1. Cheryl Thompson

    I am the worst procrastinator, but you have made me think. If I can get going and do it straight away, I do, but I’ve had a few projects in the last year, where I’ve had to wait and it has taken the momentum away. I know what you mean. I hope you’ve found how to finish your article. #MMBC

  2. Angela

    I hope you manages to find your creative spark in time for the deadline. There are so many posts unfinished in my drafts for this very reason. #MMBC

  3. Sherry

    I can certainly relate to this article! I tend to do my best work when I sit down immediately when ideas come to me. It is in those moments that I feel incredibly inspired. When I can’t sit down right away, I leave myself messages and notes. Even with those, however, it can be difficult to get back in that reflective moment I was in where thoughts and ideas just flowed to me easily.

    • Catherine Lanser

      Sometimes when I don’t have time to finish I’ll stop and it can be hard to get back into it, but usually, if I at least have a draft, I can find my way.

  4. Carol

    This is such a REAL article – it touched me and made me feel unsettled. I can procrastinate but have gotten that under control (most of the time.) I find that if I am inspired, I need to write the post that minute. When I put it off to finish something else, it’s hard to grasp that creative spirit I had before. The time is past. Wishing you great luck with this piece. If you let it, it will become a monster.

  5. Laura

    This such an evocative post. Thanks for sharing a piece of your process. I procrastinate on some projects until they loom so large they get more and more difficult to face. Others I just breeze right through even when I’m not particularly inspired.

  6. Louisa

    I hope inspiration strikes! I think I fall somewhere inbetween. As a whole I am organised and like to get jobs done as they arise but when it comes to writing I always leave it until the very last minute. It is something I am working on but not succeeding as yet! #mmbc

    • Catherine Lanser

      Thank you for stopping by. I know some people find inspiration at the last minute. Some friends and writers I know write that way.

  7. Jayne @ Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

    Totally relate to this! I too have worked on jobs and with some, I have just sailed through and completed, others have been a total nightmare and I just sit and stare at the screen, drink endless amounts of tea and still don’t know where to start!

    Hope you find some inspiration 🙂 #MMBC.

    • Catherine Lanser

      Thank you. I always hope my struggles don’t show up on the page. Maybe I’ll have to write about imposter syndrome next!

  8. Karen DeBonis

    Interesting, Catherine. I have a little of both in me – procrastination and impulsivity, but fortunately not too much of either. But many times, I’ve jotted down an inspiring idea for an essay, and gone back later to wonder “What the hell was that going to be about?” lol. Good luck to you – hope inspiration hits soon!

    • Catherine Lanser

      Thanks, Karen. I’m sure inspiration will strike. Hopefully in time. Otherwise okay will have to do. 🌝

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