Creative Procrastination, Or The Art of Looking Busy

I’m writing a blog tonight because I can’t seem to focus on my story.  I can’t seem to focus on my blog, so I’m playing Tetris.  Bored of Tetris?  Let’s check Twitter.  Tweet that I’m bored.  Play more Tetris.  Stare at page.  Repeat.

This bee was probably not procrastinating. Must be that Puritan New England work ethic.

For every hour that we spend caught up in the grips of glorious inspiration, pounding away at our keyboards with a furious, maddened intensity that makes our loved ones edge slowly towards the door, we spend at least twice as much time in slack-jawed blankness, waiting for the light bulb to go on.  Twice as much?  Hah.  I think that’s a very conservative estimate, at least in my case.

And that’s fine.  Most of us don’t work in a medieval scriptorium, and we’re not paid by words per hour – for our personal creative endeavors, at it least.  Although I really think that would help with my motivation, sometimes.  And it would mean someone’s paying me, so…

I wouldn’t say I’m blocked, exactly.  I know where my story is going, I know what has to happen in order to get me there.  I think the problem is that there’s a lot of humdrum stuff at this point, moving people into position and building up the suspense, which is annoying because I already know what happens, and the part of me that hates drama just wants to shout at my character to say what they bloody well mean once in a while, damn it.  I’ve got to get through it in order to reach the exciting parts (there are exciting parts!), but who wants to eat their vegetables when they know there’s ice cream for dessert?  That reminds me.  Be right back.  Mmm, chocolate peanut butter cup.

So I went to the mall today, just to walk around, because a) I haven’t left the house in a while, and supposedly this whole “fresh air” fad isn’t going away, and b) sometimes simply being in a different place is all I need to get back on track.  Well, coming home from the different place, I suppose.  I didn’t bring my laptop to the mall.  Too noisy.

Most of the time I’ll just do some chores, or go to the park, or take a nap brisk walk around the block, which also helps.  I like accomplishing something, even if it’s not what I’m meant to be doing, which is what creative procrastination is all about.  But I kind of can’t wait until Camp NaNoWriMo this year, so I can have some actual motivation.  I would be nowhere as a writer without those frenzied bursts of productivity, responsibility, and community (I’ll talk about the writing group I’ve been attending at a later time).

But anyway.  I’m going to write 500 words tonight before bed, come hell or high water.  These 500 don’t count.  If I skip to the fun parts, I’ll never go back and write the rest of it, so I can’t just pick and choose what I focus on.  This is why that short story I mentioned a few weeks ago is languishing in the dusty recesses of my hard drive.  There’s a section I need to fill in, but it’s after the climax and it doesn’t really matter, because everyone knows what happens afterwards anyway.  The story just seems incomplete without it, though, and I should really buckle down and work on it.  One thing at a time.

Or maybe I’ll go wash the dishes.

Update [11:40PM]: Aha!  556.  Take that, procrastination.


4 thoughts on “Creative Procrastination, Or The Art of Looking Busy

  1. Hmm. Creative procrastination. So that’s what to call those moments when I pretend like I don’t have a novel to be writing. I like it! 🙂

  2. I mentioned to my writing group that I sometimes would be ‘distracted’ by laundry. They looked at me oddly for that. And I must say, I’ve gotten over that one myself. But I totally relate. In fact, that’s why I’m reading your blog right now!

    Thanks for helping me procrastinate creatively!

  3. Every time I get to that point – the point of writing out the filler – I find myself asking, if I’m dreading writing so much, what on earth’s my reader going to think? Time for my character to do something interesting, I think – bingo: subplot!

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