The Monster at the End of Your To-Do List

February 6th, 2008

I really loved this post from Christine Kane. All her posts are great, but this one I thought might be particularly relevant to all the Creative Every Day folks. The article is all about "Creative Procrastination."

If like me, you are already a procrastinator in general, you probably also procrastinate with your creative urges. I think I've experienced all the symptoms that Christine lists. And it's true that fear is behind them all. Coincidentally (or not), I'd just been talking to the hubster about this...this recognizing what holds me back. And most of it is that big monster, Fear (of rejection, failure, etc...).  I've found that the best way to deal with fears is to move straight through them with a dose of compassion and firmness. Beating yourself up over what you've procrastinated about isn't going to get you any closer to your goals, so how to help yourself along?

I try to tackle something that scares me daily, even if that something is super-duper-teeny-tiny. No one else can judge what scary means for me, except me, so I decide. Yesterday that teeny tiny thing, was writing a magazine to get the name of the managing editor, so that I could properly address a query. And the wonderful is, the feeling of getting past that fear, no matter how small, gives me a boost. And suddenly that big monster gets smaller. Heh, I just realized I was picturing the monster as blue which reminds me of a book I had as a kid. The book was called, There's a Monster at the End of this Book. Throughout the pages of the book, Grover (a blue, fuzzy monster), pleads with you not to turn another page. He's terrified of meeting the monster at the end of the story. He begs and even builds brick walls while trying to prevent you from getting to the end where he'll have to face this monster. I always felt a little badly for Grover as I turned the page, but I did keep turning. And then you get to the end of the book and it turns out the monster is him.


How perfect! Just like in the story, the monster we put up all these walls to hide from, is nothing to be afraid of. Whatever the negative voices and imagined stories you've created, swirl together to create this big, scary monster, when in reality, the monster is yourself. And with a little compassion, you can see that this "monster" isn't so bad after all. And maybe like Grover, it just needs a hug.

I love to keep lists. I have to-do lists on nearly any paper surface within reach. But I've noticed that to-do lists are never-ending and when they start to fill up with scary things, I start to avoid looking at them. In the past couple of days, I decided to keep an "Already Done" list. I realized that not everything I do and feel good about is on a list and it's really helpful at the end of the day to look back and see what I've actually done. A sense of accomplishment is a major boost and helps keep me motivated to tackle the next little monster on my list.

So, if you're finding yourself stuck with a monster on your list of to-do's or a monster sitting at your crafting table, try showing him or her your list of "Already Done" and see what happens. What happens if we keep turning the pages? Is there a loveable blue monster on the other side of your to-do list?

p.s. More fun synchronicity...I had to get in my car before I finished this post and a song came on the radio with the lyrics, "there are no monsters under your bed." :-)

19 Responses

Okay, I’ve been visiting your blog for a while. Sorry I’ve never commented. I LOVE your artwork. But I just had to say today that you gave me a smile. “The Monster at the End of This Book” was one of my favorites as a kid, too!

Thanks for the article link. Really makes ya think, eh?

I’ve just realized something I do works when I was reading this post…. lately, I’ve only been doing lists of things I DO finished or work on. I keep them in a notebook and when I feel like I’m not getting anything done, I go back and look at what I have done. Also, I’ve realized that my desk can NOT be kept clean and as long as my little things do to are there I do them…and I have no time frame- only the flow of ‘creative juices’ time frame..if I don’t feel like doing it- I don’t I’ve realized I can’t fight it. No pressure. When I found this blog and read the ‘requirements’ it fit like a glove for me!

OMG, I totally still have that book from when I was little. Grover Rules! :) Really enjoying your entries here, Leah — inspiring me to keep going. Thank you, too, for your contribution to “A Peace Of…” — just posted it now:

Miracles to you!!

Love this post. Wish I had that book when I was growing up – I’m a little older than you. :)
Those lists do get daunting, so I try to not write so many.
As for things accomplished. It’s good to photograph our work. I know I’ve been pleasantly surprised while browsing through old pics & I run across ones of all the items I made for Christmas gifts. That WAS encouraging.
I’m also finding my blog to be a source of encouragement as friends comment on all the things I’m doing. They have no idea that my blog is just showing a part of what I do. All the sketches & doodles & even day dreaming about my projects are part of my creative every day.

I love your synchronicity!

And I’ve just watched a programme about a family who’ve built their own gothic house complete with hand-carved gargoyles – most of which were friendly!

I had to pipe up and say how much I LOVE THAT BOOK.

It was one of my very favorites as a kid. I especially liked the page where he tried to brick up the book to prevent page turning. (”Did you know you are very strong?” HEE!)

Love Christine’s post and your Leah. I am SUCH a huge procrastinator, it’s scary…that angel challenge I did on my blog? I had the art for a whole month! and then finally did something with it the day before it was due! I’m a big Grover fan too…. :-) 0

Thank you Leah for reminding me of this book! It was one of my favorites when I was little. I will have to go search for one to add to Noah’s library. he already has Frog and Toad are Friends (another fave of mine). Great post! My to-do lists get overwhelming at times.

Oh, my procrastination had me feeling oh, so guilty about Creative Every Day (what about every week? maybe every month?), so much so that I almost didn’t come over here, but then you always have such encouraging ideas to share.

And an “already done” list is known as a “Ta-da!” list around here. Much preferable to a “To Do” list!

…I loved this story.

What a delicious post. :)


Great post Leah! I loved that book too and I’m pretty sure I was an adult when I first read it. Children’s books that can speak to adults as well are the best.

Oh how can I relate to this and you reminded me of one of my favorite children’s books that I haven’t thought about in FOREVER. You gotta love Grover.

Oh boy! I have I been the monster at the end of my own book this week! Too much to do and lots of opportunities to put off the one thing I really need to do! Yikes! What a sweet analogy. I so remember reading that book as a kid. Who could resist Grover?

Loved this book as a kid! Grover has gotten weird lately but he was so cool back in the day. Friday I got a book from the library that has already changed me “refuse to choose” it’s about why i am the way i am and how to actually deal with having too many interests. I forgot about lists for a couple years and have recently started making them again to keep track of things i need to do (creatively).

Related to this…a couple of days ago I just received from Amazon “Art and Fear” (long recommended by Patti). Now if I can just stop procrastinating and read it. ;)

lol.. the monsrer under the bed.. a blast from the past.. at least 21 years ago i was reading that to my older they grow up fast… i love to take part of the creative every day..count me in.. i will post yout logo on my blob..peace laura

Greetings, Leah!

I am definitely going used-book-hunting this afternoon!!!
My kids were far ‘too old’ for Sesame Street books … so I missed that one. May have to find 3 copies – one for me, and one for each set of grands ;)

Thank you ~
I will be back!

Karen J

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