By now, we all know how to stroke our muse into a frothy creative fervor. But how do we stifle it? What if we want to stomp on it, quiet it, and otherwise murder it?
Not all of us have access to this information. Especially productive people probably don’t even know how to slack off or piddle away their precious time. So I’ve decided to volunteer my lifelong note-taking, live from the trenches of procrastination and work avoidance, to share the best ways to piss away your productivity.
1. Clean the house instead. If you’re feeling an urge to sit down and write, seven minutes into the writing activity itself you must make sure to switch gears. Instead, pick up the toilet brush and scrub that thing into gleaming perfection. Or, find a task that hasn’t been done in a good long while, preferably one that takes hours and perhaps even requires an assistant–like cleaning the entire fridge, de-icing the freezer, or cleaning the stove. The more intricate the better, like organizing the family photo album. Pro Tip: Initiate the cleaning activity immediately after your muse begins rumbling to life!
2. Cram your day with disparate social activities. While away your most productive time by visiting with friends in coffee shops, accompanying relatives to the mall, and spending a few hours picking out items for an acquaintance’s gift registry. Before you know it, it’s dinnertime and you still have to cook and wouldyabelieveit, you haven’t even written a word yet. Pro Tip: Schedule several per day–morning, afternoon, and evening–in different neighborhoods in the city!
3. Defrag your hard drive right when your creative peak is elbowing through. Once you’ve hit the ‘Start’ button on that defrag, your main creative tool will essentially be out of commission, which means you’ll have to turn your attention toward any other numbing, pixelated screen–like the television, or endless Instagram scrolling. Pro Tip: Make sure you choose the BIG defrag and not just the quick one, so it eats up more time!
4. Make enough food for the entire week. In fact, you better plan each meal down to the last feta crumble, and this means going to the supermarket right now, buying all the necessary ingredients for all these meals (which will surely be over $400), and then whiling away your afternoon and evening cooking and baking said dishes. Freeze what you can’t eat now, but make sure it’s all labeled well so the rest of your family knows what to eat. With any luck, you’ll have avoided writing for a full ten hours. Pro Tip: Really plan ahead and get things around for an upcoming holiday! That’s an even better excuse if anyone asks you why you’re not writing instead!
5. Do an exercise video and then walk the dog three times longer than you usually do. It doesn’t matter if you exercise regularly or not; really, exercise feels better if you do it when you’re supposed to be doing something else, so that half-mile jog for the first time in three years is fifteen minutes well-spent if it’s at the cost of your WIP. Motivation never felt so good when it takes precedence over something you know you need to be doing just a little bit more than what you’re actually doing! Pro Tip: Schedule a weekly cycling meet-up during your writing prime-time!
Are you guilty of any of these? If so, don’t fret–we all are! (And if I admitted to you how guilty I am of all of these, I’d blush myself right out of the room.)
If you find yourself gravitating toward these writing-avoiding activities, with the true intent to distract yourself from sitting down and writing, just take a deep breath and remind yourself of the following things: You’re human. It’s okay. It’s all a process.
I find myself avoiding writing way too often, and it’s frustrating because all I want to do is write. So why am I piddling away my time doing other things?
Only we can know where our true balance sits between necessary daily activities–like meal planning, exercise, cleaning the house, etc–and getting the current Work In Progress written. But we know when we’re lying to ourselves. And part of this article was a way for me to come clean with the fact that I lie to myself quite often, and that those lies are dressed up in seemingly innocuous and helpful tasks.
Being aware is the first step. Acknowledge it, accept it, and then change it. And be compassionate when you find it happening again the next time…even if it might be ten minutes later.
Now go open the Word document and actually WRITE!
What activities do you use to distract yourself from or otherwise avoid writing? Especially if you’re at a plot impasse or another form of writer’s block? Tell me about it below!