It’s the first couple weeks after break, and you know what that means!

Time to reflect on all the writing you didn’t get done! Levels of regret vary directly according to your procrastination.

I myself swore that I would knock it out of the park this time. I had a story plan-one that I had even hammered out with some good friends-and all the free time in the world. I could almost see the pages flying out of my printer.

But then, I was scheduled for some extra days at work. Then I had to prepare for the holidays. Then my family had an outing to Barnes and Noble, and suddenly I had a lot of reading to do during my downtime. Next thing I knew the semester had begun, and my writing absolutely hadn’t.

So of course, the first thing I did upon my return was talk about his with my fellow school-bound writing friends, and they all actually told me a very similar story. As it turns out, sometimes life seems like it was specifically designed to ensure that absolutely nothing ever gets done. That downtime that we swear we’ll use to turn everything around never seems to stick around, and it always leaves us with a longer to-do list and the feeling that we’ve been scammed.

For the first time in quite a while, I sat down and really thought about this problem. In the past, I would just shrug it off, blame the lack of time, and go on with my day (read: eat chips and play video games, while telling myself homework will eventually get done). But, I’ve started to develop this terrible hunch that the world expects me to actually do something. I wouldn’t call this burgeoning feeling maturity, since just typing that word out almost physically hurts.

I’ve always thought of work like dead weight; yet, whenever I think of the writing I haven’t done, I feel heavy. Maybe that’s why it’s late at night and I have the flu, but I’m still here typing up this therapy session disguised as an article. Could be that’s why I’m trying desperately to weave a flowing metaphor describing this uncomfortable feeling of loss-right now I’m thinking all the time wasted are like drops of water, slowly coalescing into a lake-when I’d like few things more than to get some sleep.

I’m certainly no model for what writing practices you should take up, but I’m starting to be a pretty accurate roadmap for what you should avoid. Over my time reading and learning, I’ve read countless pieces of advice on how to combat procrastination. Everything from setting writing rituals, to treating yourself for good work, to not treating yourself, to avoiding rituals and enjoying the chaos. In this time, I’ve come to believe that they’re all equally valid, as well as full of shit. The simple fact of the matter is that no one knows what you need to kick it in gear better than you. It just takes a few uncomfortable questions as to your own drive-bonus points if you’re delirious due to sickness.

If there’s one thing that I want you to take away from this, it’s that you shouldn’t let regret stop you. If you’re feeling bad about not writing, that’s only going to keep you from getting anything done. Use it as motivation; a threat to yourself, for what you’ll feel like next time you spend a day merging with the couch. Don’t beat yourself up for your mistakes; learn from them. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some games to play.