Dear Art Doctor,
Well, December has started and despite promising myself I’d start revising mid-August (a plan I’d hoped had sufficiently incorporated enough procrastination that I instead start early November) I’ve only just realised the true scale of the revision I need to do before exams. Is there anything you can advise to help me get that initial motivation or how to constructively plan out my studying relative to my exams? Is listening to music disruptive? Is a trek to the library little more than a wasted Arthurian hunt for the Grail that is an unmanned computer this time of year?
With regards to your work and planning, I can’t help but think that you’re going on a quest, Arthurian or not, to find yourself some justified procrastination time. I do it too: I can’t possibly begin revision, I tell myself, until I’ve bought at least five different coloured pens and some index cards – oh, and probably a coffee too. And, you know, usually I’m an advocate of keeping your surroundings – which are, let’s not kid ourselves, going to be piles of notes for the near future – aesthetically pleasing. I am the queen of avoiding work and telling myself I’m just keeping the Arts and Crafts mentality going: William Morris would be proud. But here I really must capitulate and say just do your bloody work. The most I will allow you is a ‘to do’ list – and even then, no excessive formatting and creating sub-headings and so on, okay? I promise you’ll feel better if you just log out of Facebook, turn Belle & Sebastian off (or whatever you’re listening to – as randomly selected examples go, I must admit that they’re hardly the most disruptive), and get on with it.
“Wot, no art?” you cry. Well, I really don’t think you need any more distractions but, if you insist, have a look at Rembrandt’s Faust in his Study (c.1652) and Jan Steen’s A School for Boys and Girls (c.1670). You’re aiming to emulate the former; if you get really bored, however, attempting to recreate the scene from A School… in the library would at least be amusing procrastination.
Originally published in The Student, 6 December 2011.