A Productive Kind of Self-Torture

I run on deadlines. My whole work schedule hinges on them. I've seen infographics that suggest the creative process is about 90% procrastination, that the panic of an approaching deadline propels creative sparks to fly. I don't design that way. I work beat-the-clock style, trying to turn projects in before the deadline as much as possible. It's a productive kind of self-torture and it makes for happy clients!

In other arenas, it's a different story. Unfinished shopping lists and unfilled school forms haunt my downtime. To-do lists pile up around the house until I know I'm a bad person for ignoring them. When my declining self-image can take it no longer, I spend a weekend being super-productive, blasting through all my yardwork and housework and paperwork.
Sketchy Charcoal Judges You

Turns out drawing, for me, is more like the latter. I had started this new mandala. I'd like to tell you I steadily worked on it every week, finishing at a reasonable pace. But, about halfway through, I set it on my table and left it. It kept staring at me, saying, "Get over here and finish this..." Its opinion of me slowly deteriorated with each passing day. For weeks I kept putting it off.

Every time I thought I would work on it, I ended up changing my plans at the last minute.
Oh, I need to do dishes.
Oh, I need to spend time with the kids.
Oh, I need to take a nap.
Oh, I need to read this magazine.
Everything else seemed more important. I caught myself lamenting that I never had time to draw. Other papers started piling up on my table, and I thought, "Well, if I'm going to draw, I'll need to clean up my office first..."

One evening, the kids went downstairs to watch YouTube and I started mentally preparing myself to conquer the piles of paperwork. Then, I realized that was just another excuse. If I was ever going to draw again, I needed to just do it. I had to finish this self-righteous, judgmental piece! (Turns out the threat of cleaning my office was enough to tip the scales.)

I took my paper and charcoal to the kitchen table. I sat down and finished it that night. Because there! Take that, judgy charcoal!

Perhaps I work better with deadlines.