I check my writing deadline to-do list.
Two articles need to be written today, proofed and shared with editors. The other six - all in various stages of researching or writing - require attention.
Instead of sitting at my desk and digging in, I move to the kitchen, crack open cupboards, peruse ingredients and decide what type of dessert or goodies to bake.
One counter is filled with bars of chocolate to curl chocolate shavings as toppings, bags of pecans and walnuts and jars of sprinkles. Another is lined with cupcake pans, red liners with white polka dots poking above the tin.
Whip batter, pour into pans, set timer.
Once all that lovin’ is removed from the oven, and I’ve spent one or two hours untethered from my laptop, it’s time to write.
When I worked as a freelance writer, the above-mentioned routine was the norm.
Some days, I’d whip up a batch of s’more brownies or a pan of peach-raspberry crisp. The next, German chocolate cake, with homemade pecan and coconut frosting, sat on display on the kitchen table, a four-tiered gem of deliciousness.
It wasn’t that I didn’t have other work to do, work that provided a decent income, because I did.
Kitchen time became a friendly diversion, though.
Baking - even cooking, in general - spurs my creative process. It’s second nature. I don’t have to stare at a recipe and measure each ingredient. Instead, I add a little of this and a pinch of that and end up with a concoction all my own.
According to an article in The New York Times, I’m not alone.
Procrastibaking, “the practice of baking something completely unnecessary, with the intention of avoiding “real” work, is a surpassingly common habit.” (It’s also a favorite Instagram hashtag.)
I wasn’t baking something unnecessary. My hard-working farmer husband appreciated the treats during mid-morning coffee breaks or as an afternoon snack.
And, I wasn’t avoiding real work. Prolonging it, maybe, but in the end, work was completed and submitted by deadline.
A psychology professor interviewed in the Times article disagrees with my assessment.
Tim Pychyl of Ottawa’s Carleton University, said procrastinating is “an unconsciously deployed strategy that makes us feel skilled, nurturing and virtuous in the present while distracting us from the future.”
Baking is easier to swallow as a perceived distraction than, say, the social media time-suck, where you begin looking at one photo posted on Instagram or scrolling Facebook and three hours later, you’re surfing the web to locate the best spots to purchase vintage Husker gear.
I know that because … been there, done that.
Creativity on demand is tricky, requiring constant thought about angles and words and phrases.
While there isn’t an on-off switch regulating creativity, there is a definite warm-up period, a building of ideas and thoughts that churn and fold into one.
Procrastibaking serves as a way to pre-heat the mind before creating an exquisite masterpiece.
That’s worth every decadent bite.