The Coworker

Many the artist, particularly the beginning artist, complains about their propensity to procrastinate. If only I weren’t such a procrastinator, they moan, I would get so much more work accomplished. You can’t argue with that, but the procrastinator seems to feel that this procrastination is a kind of disease he or she caught some time back and has been unable to shake ever since.

Of course, procrastination is not a disease at all, but a choice, only in my opinion a very wise choice—the wisest possible, usually, given the circumstances. And what are those circumstances? Waiting for the procrastinator in her workspace is a kind of irritating coworker. Sometimes they are quiet, but usually and eventually they begin to talk while you work, often posing rhetorical questions, such as, “Why do you think you’ll ever finish this book?” or, “Why do you think that’s any good?”

Who could work under such conditions? If you know that coworker is going to be there, it seems to me you are absolutely justified in avoiding the work. On the other hand, you could ask this annoying coworker to leave. Perhaps you don’t remember, but you invited him into your workspace once upon a time because you felt he would be helpful. You were younger then, and the work seemed more intimidating and you wanted some help, that’s all, because you must have thought it was important that you never make a mistake of any kind.

I think it’s best that you ask him to leave. You will miss him in a way at first, because you have grown accustomed to his voice, and you will feel a bit alone, but that feeling quickly passes. You will love the new silence. Within it, you can hear yourself more clearly, which is why you were drawn to the work the first place. You have always wanted to be alone with your work, and once you are, you will fully understand that the voice had never been you.

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