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Heresy for Writers: Choose The Not Writing Day

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There is a way to be miserable. It’s guaranteed. If you really want to ruin your day, promise yourself you’ll write something today, just not now. As the day stumbles forward, keep thinking any minute now you could start, but just now doesn’t feel right.

Now start feeling guilty. Is your head hot yet? Does it feel like a sword hanging by a very thin wire is above you? No?

Give it some more time. Wait until conditions are just right. What’s in the fridge? Can you really bring yourself to write knowing the bathtub hasn’t been cleaned yet? When was the last time you washed the sheets? There’s another chore in the way. Now you’ll need to reward yourself for that hard work. Oh, there’s that delicious book from the library. You know you shouldn’t read it now, but it is due next week. It’s The Book of Dead Philosophers by Simon Critchley! Who could resist that?

Then we’ve stepped on the procrastination treadmill: same thought running constantly, “I should start, I’ll start soon…”

Going nowhere.

I wonder what’s on TV at 10? 11? Noon. Well, now it’s lunch. Something’s missing… Oh, look at that! I’ve seen this movie three times and I get sucked in every time. Well, now it’s 3 pm. I feel a nap coming on…

4 pm. Need a coffee to boost my energy. Hm…should clean up the kitchen before everyone comes home…

5 pm Dinner’s started but I’ll definitely will get to writing a chapter before 7. Oh, the dishes.

And the kids want help with their homework…

9 pm. Got the kids to bed. I should start. I’ve been meaning to start all day and now…yawn. Fuzzy. Ooh, The Big Bang Theory rerun!

11 pm. I’ve got the Daily Show taping in the middle of the night so I won’t waste time…but I really want to know what Jon thinks of what’s going on in Egypt tonight.

Somehow, it’s midnight. It’s kind of late to start now. Shit.

Or

Schedule a time and stick to it like you would any other appointment. You don’t miss appointments with your dentist or an important business meeting.

Your writing time is an important business meeting.

Or

(here comes the heresy)

Take the day off! 

From the beginning, say this is not a writing day.

Enjoy it.

That’s right. I’m the Devil and I love idle, non-typing, hands. The  day I just described is a reasonably happy (though not remarkable) lazy day. What made it miserable was the guilt.You’re going to have recharge days. Don’t spoil them with guilt.You are not a machine. Enjoy not being a machine sometimes.

Enjoy your choices by making them

instead of letting them happen to you.

Filed under: authors, Books, Media, Writers, writing tips, , , , , , , , ,

6 Responses

  1. You don’t have to tell me twice to take a day off. ;-)

    Ha! Your writing day looks a lot like mine. I recently wrote a post called Typical Day in the Life of a Writer. In includes lots of peering into the refrigerator and tweezing stray eyebrows.

  2. Chazz says:

    Ha ha! Good! The misery only comes when you don’t embrace it (or… Duh, duh, Duuuuh! The demons come at night when we embrace our sloth too often.)

  3. alberta ross says:

    sussed it out just after Christmas – I have days when there is nothing on – they are my writing days and then there are days when I have appointments or groups or meeting friends and instead of feeling guilty about not writing before and after those times I now say it’s my day and I do what I want (might even include writing) so much more relaxing and i am enjoying the writing again – good blog

  4. Sonia M. says:

    Great post! Procrastination is a demon I regularly struggle with (I wrote a post about in order to outwit it). I like the idea of deliberately taking a day off though. Could maybe short circut the whole procrastination-guilt cycle.

  5. [...] anyway. And I love the idea of just choosing to procrastinate as Robert Chazz Chute suggests in his post. And I’m sure I could spend a looooong time researching other ways of overcoming [...]

  6. Chazz says:

    Thanks for reading, guys. I find my time is squeezed ever tighter and self-management strat–oop. Kids calling…

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