The other day I was looking for something on my computer. (I spend a fair amount of time doing this. I probably need to get my files a bit better organized.) And I ran across an old guest post I wrote a few years ago, the title of which was something to the effect of, Taking Responsibility For Your Creativity.
Back then, I thought that was quite the concept--that we have a responsibility to our creativity. And I still do, because it's true. If you're a creative person--if you have a book or painting or song or movie inside you longing to burst out--you have a responsibility to bring that creative project to the world.
And yet so many of us don't. We just don't. Because....well, just because.
Because it's hard.
Because it takes thought.
Because we're scared.
Because we're lazy.
Because we'd rather watch TV. Or drink wine. Or do something, anything, other than writing.
So for all of us you, today I have a handy-dandy guide about how not to get writing done. I think you'll find it very helpful.
1. Fill your day with meaningless activities like surfing the internet. Or watching a reality TV show. Or getting drunk. Or arguing with your spouse. The choice of activity is yours--just make sure it is not fulfilling, wastes time, or damages your self-esteem or health.
2. Multi-task. Whatever you do, do not focus on one task at a time! C'mon, we all know that's the best way to get your writing done. So do not do it. Open as many tabs on your browser as you possibly can, make sure your phone is always near by and turned on, and while you're at, turn the TV or radio on, too.
3. Expect perfection. Whatever you do, do not allow yourself to splash words on the page in wild abandon. No, far better to agonize over every word. To second guess every word choice. To circle back around and edit everything one more time before moving on. And let's face it, working this way you won't ever get to move anyway.
4. Judge your work. This is especially important to do while you are in the process of writing. It will shut you down faster than anything, and that's what we're after here! Be sure to tell yourself how awful your writing is, and also mock and jeer at the way you put words together. Bonus points if this is done in the voice of your highly critical third-grade teacher.
5. Do not worry about studying your craft. Don't read books about writing. Don't visit other blogs on writing, and never, ever hire a coach. This means no reading, either. Don't read books similar to what your writing (novels if you are writing a novel, memoirs if writing a memoir) because reading is a fabulous way to teach yourself to write. And we wouldn't want that to happen.
6. Talk about your project as much as possible. Tell everyone you know all about your project. Relate every single aspect of it, over and over again. This is helpful because talking a book out almost certainly makes it impossible to write it out--you've taken all the air out of it. Good on you!
7. Whatever you do, don't meditate, pray, do yoga or walk. Or any other baseline activity that might calm and center you and thus enable writing flow. Instead when you get frustrated, just get more frustrated. When you're depressed about your work, don't even attempt to take a few deep breaths or change your mindset in any way. Uh-uh. That might get the words flowing again, and we can't have that!
Those are my sure-fire ways for not getting any writing done. I bet you have some good ones, also. Care to share?
Photo by sandcastleMatt.