Friday, September 14, 2007

The Lonely Writer Part 3 :: Avoiding Unnecessary Activity

The Japanese poet, Ryokan wrote, "If you want to find the meaning, stop chasing after so many things."

Thank about that for a minute. How many things are you chasing? And I'm not even talk about the abstracts of inner peace or more good hair days. I'm talking about the practical things: housecleaning, shuttling the kids around, home or car maintenance, etc. Sometimes we are just juggling too much, and too many of the wrong things.

Do you keep "to do" lists? I bet you do.

We all do.

And when you are sitting down to write, are you thinking about your "to do" list? I bet you do sometimes, especially when the words aren't coming out as quickly as you would like. So what do we do?

We multi-task!

We think, "Well, I can at least throw in a load of laundry." Then we do it and go sit back down.

Then we think, "I could probably fill the sink and let the dishes soak while I write." Then we do it and go sit back down.

Then we think, "I should probably get the coffee maker set for tomorrow morning before I forget about it." Then we do it and go sit back down.

Then we think, "If I'm saving time with the coffee maker, I should probably lay out my clothes for tomorrow, too." Then we do it and go sit back down.

And how much of this is getting writing done? None of it.

How much of it can wait? Usually, all of it can.

How much writing got done? Exactly.

This is, in general, what our lives have become. We rush from one activity to another. And all of the new gadgets we get make it easier to keep doing it. And they sell it all to us as if it is a good thing. We don't need gadgets to let us do more. What we really need to do is stop, take a breath, and realize which activities are unnecessary, the stop doing those things. For writers, it starts with prioritizing and avoiding activity that is unnecessary while we are writing. If this isn't enough, then you need to look at parts of your life, in comparison to writing, and make some decisions. And you know the decisions, I'm talking about.

This becomes especially important when the writing is slow. Don't ever feel like inactive time at the keyboard is wasted time or time that could be spent doing something else...something unnecessary. Indeed, it is often these times when everything stops, and we are not pre-occupied with doing unnecessary things, that the best ideas start coming to the surface. When that happens, you are at the start of tapping creativity.

Related Posts:
The Lonely Writer :: An Introduction
The Lonely Writer Part 1 :: Less Desire
The Lonely Writer Part 2 :: Contentment
The Lonely Writer Part 4 :: Complete Discipline
The Lonely Writer Part 5 :: Not Wandering in the World of Desire
The Lonely Writer Part 6 :: Not Seeking Security from Discursive Thoughts

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