52 Weeks of Writing: Week 19—Facing Procrastination with the Help of AI (part one)

52 Weeks of Writing: Week 19—Facing Procrastination with the Help of AI (part one)
Photo by Andrea De Santis / Unsplash

Because I'm still in the middle of a major health crisis, I need to lean on something highly controversial for help. My therapist knows I like to journal, so she recommended I try some AI prompts. The AI provides me with feedback on the answers I give, which I'll keep private, but I'm sharing the questions as they provide a great framework for a weekly review.

What went well this week?

Let's see. I did teach on Tuesday. It was the last week of teaching for the second semester, and I was very grateful to the students who attended seminars, asked questions, and posed problems for me to attempt to solve.

I didn't do much else on Tuesday, aside from a very gentle workout and a lot of resting. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday I focused on editing. On Monday and Wednesday I was able to go for some very gentle runs. I'm being incredibly careful because from what I've read, exercise can exacerbate iron deficiency.

I kept up with journaling rather than writing. I've been trying to find notes I made on the general plot for the novel, but they seem to have disappeared. I started reading and made significant headway on R F Kuang's Babel. I also began to make notes for an article on the materiality of magic in that novel.

Were there any strategies or coping mechanisms that helped you manage your symptoms? It's important to recognize and acknowledge the things that are working for you.

1. Lowering my expectations. I had to stop and allow myself to rest a lot. I had to learn to put up with a lot of frustration. I'm used to being able to use running as a way to manage my mental health. On some days, I can't even get out of bed now. I try to find something to do, even if it's only stepping out of the house for a breath of fresh air.

2. Listening to wonderful sleep stories. Whenever my partner is away, I listen to these "bedtime stories", which are meant to be boring (so you'll go to sleep). I find them utterly delightful. I'm especially obsessed with Aster J. Haile's Starship 28 series. Travelling on a spaceship to explore the solar system takes me so far away from the current state of my physical body.

3. Understanding that my wayward emotions are being triggered by whatever's gone wrong with my body. And remembering that my GP is already aware and investigating the situation.

Based on your experiences this week, what can you do to improve your situation next week? Are there any adjustments you can make to your routine or habits that might help you better manage your health issues?

One thing I haven't mentioned is procrastination. I've hit this critical, dynamic scene I should be working through, and I've stopped just at the point it kicks off into real action. All my self doubt has shown up, and I don't know what to do next.

What I'm going to do is go back to the meditation on procrastination that helped me last time. I'm also going to make use of AI to explore some of the underlying causes. This is an experiment. I'm not sure where it'll go, but I am curious.

One critical adjustment I need to make involves the iron deficiency treatment. I usually take vitamin D and calcium, but I've had to be really careful with the latter due to the fact that it can reduce iron absorption. Now I have a schedule for taking iron, I'm going to try to bring back the vitamin D and calcium supplement.

This is turning into the most complicated leapfrogging of all the things that do and don't help. I won't have to go onto campus to teach, but I will be marking I expect. It's all about taking everything slowly and carefully now.

What are the biggest lessons you learned from this week?

If I was going to share one thing about this week it's the realisation that I try really hard to ignore how difficult and stressful I find the basics of living. I expect myself to just show up and be creative and I'm pissed at myself if I can't do that.

Only this week did I stop and realise how little energy I had left after ensuring I'd sorted out food, adulting responsibilities, making sure my cat doesn't murder all the other cats in the neighbourhood, chores, washing up (why is there always so much washing up, even if it's just me in the house?). Life is hard work.

Did you discover any new insights about your health or your abilities to cope with challenging situations?

I've always felt that resilient people somehow have their chin up and a smile on their faces the entire time. I'm not good at that. I don't even know if I'm rolling with these punches well at all. Maybe I'm not. I try to remember when hormones make me feel angry, frustrated, or exhausted, that in a couple of hours that's going to change, and I just have to ride it out.

Does that sound trite or conceited? Sometimes I just want to ugly cry.

Looking ahead to next week, what are your goals and priorities? Given your health concerns, what are some realistic and achievable steps you can take to move forward?

The first and most important goal is a health one. On Sunday (Sunday? Who does health appointments on a Sunday?) I'm going to have some investigations done to ensure I can start taking one possible solution to what's causing the iron deficiency. I also have another GP follow-up about the results of the blood tests to attend.

I'd like to see if I can get through my fear of writing these scenes and the run up to the midpoint break. My steps will be small, very small. I'm going to attempt a new strategy around journaling and daily reviews to see whether that helps me to get past my fear of writing at the moment.

I'm going to try to do a daily review at the end of every day, and use focus prompts for journaling. Like I am here.