We talk a lot about it. We joke about it. In fact, in doing both we end up making it worse. It's a common malady amongst all but the most hyperactive, workaholic, type-B personalities. Amongst artists, it's perhaps even MORE prevalent and contagious than most afflictions. I'm talking about the ugly "P-word"--procrastination! It's wrecked more great art careers than alcoholism, **********, and wife-beating combined. Studies have concluded that it's epidemic in society in general and spreading to new heights, infecting new, unsuspecting victims every day. Symptoms include low self-esteem, a general lack of energy, a high degree of self-indulgence, extreme rationalization, self-deceit, and just plain laziness. Millions of dollars are spent each year for individual counseling and group therapy by those trying to overcome it. Still it persists. Statistics indicate it strikes one new victim every twenty-one seconds!
In rare cases procrastination can be fatal, but most often, especially amongst artists, it results in the individual being LESS than he or she can be. Perhaps that's why it's fairly uncommon in the Army. It has been known to cut an artist's production in HALF; and is widely suspected of fostering the common stereotype of the "starving artist." Art history is full of artists suffering from this dread disease, such as the Mexican muralist, Maby Monyana whose unfinished murals were all completed by his assistant, Diego Rivera; or the Russian portrait artist, Ivan Puttinitoff, who seldom got past the nose on his faces. Another would be the promising colleague of French artists Manet and Monet, known only as Somdet (pronounced SOME-day). He is said to hold the world's record for leaving paintings unfinished (13, 373). Even successful artists such as Gilbert Stuart have fought this disease. His unfinished portrait of George Washington is a prime example.
For years scientists, psychologists, politicians, and hairdressers have struggled to find a cure; and some progress has been made. Some doctors have touted the use of the wonder drug, Viagra, for such purposes, though the side-effects have, at times, been counterproductive, especially when used by men; while it's effectiveness for women is highly questionable. In addressing this serious subject, I must confess, that, yes, I too have been known to suffer from this terrible affliction. I can proudly report though, that, having completed my own 12-step program, I am now a RECOVERED PROCRASTINATOR. How have I done it? What was my secret? I call it "hard-core logic." Whenever I feel I'm about to have a moment of weakness, I simply tell myself: "You are NOT getting any younger. You have only X-number of years, months, weeks, days, hours, and minutes left on this earth and you have many, many paintings you want to do; and if you have any HOPE of ever getting them all done; you'd damn well better get your *** in gear." It's called tough shove. Works for me.