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Artist Beverly Pepper said, "I go to my studio every day. Some days the work comes easily. Other days nothing happens. Yet on the good days the inspiration is only an accumulation of all the other, the nonproductive ones." Sigh. I'm just not that focused.

All week, I've been meaning to go to my dye and textile studio to work on the pieces I made in Jane Dunnewold's class a few weeks ago.

Instead of spending a few hours in the studio, I've sorted through my home sewing room, written a birthday letter to my god-daughter, shopped for groceries, and made a fresh batch of yummy granola. I've played far more computer solitaire games than I should have, and completed half a dozen crosswords. I've done several loads of washing and even some ironing. I've gone to a quilt show, a meditation session, and a friend's opening night at a local gallery. I've swum laps three times, but have I done the one thing I meant to do this week? Nope. Why not?

I'm feeling overwhelmed by the task. There are so many pieces to make decisions about; I feel tired just thinking about it:

I want to do it, I'll enjoy doing it, but I haven't taken the first step.

Writing a Ph.D dissertation taught me a great deal about accomplishing an overwhelming task. At the beginning of that process, I asked my adviser how to go about such a huge endeavor. "One word at a time," was her reply. I thought she was being a smart ass at the time, but she was right: dogged persistence is what gets dissertations written. That same skill got me through a pile of grading when I was teaching, and it's what gets me to the swimming pool to do my laps these days. There's no particular virtue in this kind of stubborn determination; it's just a learned skill.

So finally, Friday, I went to the studio and started the way I always do: by tidying up, creating order. Then I went through my pieces, one at a time, putting them in piles according to what I plan to do with them. I've made a dent on the work.

Sometimes, procrastination isn't such a bad time. It's a way for the Universe to slow us down, think more about a project before rushing in. I should probably listen more carefully to my impulse for procrastination, and ask myself: "Is this just laziness, or is it not yet the right time for this particular project?"

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