Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Not Writing 101: How to Overcome Your Writing Compulsion

by Sarah Sullivan

“I write because I can’t not write” is a frequent lament uttered by writers the world round. If you suffer from this agonizing affliction take heart, you are not alone and help is available. Many writers, such as myself, find it exceptionally easy not to write. I don’t mean to brag or make anyone feel bad, but I find almost nothing easier than not writing. You too can enjoy a life  filled with many hours, days, even weeks of not writing if you follow these 15 simple steps which I like to call: How to Not Write Even If Your Life Depends on It. (I have used at least ten of these steps for this post alone.)
  1. Always delay your writing until your “to-do” list is complete and your home and/or office are neat as a pin. 
  2. Find a remodeling project in your home, the larger and messier the better. It’s especially helpful if the project takes place in your writing area. 
  3. Spend your allotted “writing time” shopping for cute notebooks and pens to keep in your car, bag and office to jot down the inevitable flashes of brilliance then quickly lose track of them. 
  4. Get up and down from your desk A LOT. Some ideas: take time to remove your contacts in favor of glasses (it looks more writerly anyway); play with cute styles for your hair to keep it out of your eyes while writing (make sure that that it compliments your glasses.); let your dog in and out constantly (more on that later); drink plenty of liquids particularly those with diaeretic properties like caffeine which will translate into frequent bathroom breaks. 
  5. Purchase a dog with excessive energy. It’s best if you pay top dollar for the dog so that you feel extra guilty if (s)he is not well exercised. 
  6. Stock your refrigerator and pantry with gobs of irresistible treats so that you are tempted to bolt for a favorite anytime the writing gets rough. Eating while writing is an especially useful tool. 
  7. Watch T.V. while writing. If your lucky you will find a Golden Girls, House Hunters or similarly enticing marathon. We recently added cable to our home, but honestly this is a more advanced form of procrastination which you are probably not ready for at this point in your recovery. Hang in there, it will come!
  8. Make sure your family and friends know that there is an open door policy at your home and anyone is welcome to stop by anytime for a visit. 
  9. If you are serious about not writing, it’s best to keep as many windows open on your computer as possible. The content is not important as along as it is tempting to you. I, for instance, tend toward celebrity sites and dream property listings but this is a strategy that you can really sink your teeth into and make it your own. 
  10. Keep all phones at your side at all times! If you are not doing this already, it's a rookie mistake but not one that can't be overcome. 
  11. Read as much as you can. Now this is a tricky one and may seem counter-intuitive since any writing teacher worth their salt will tell you that you must read in order to write. The good news is you can actually over read thereby leaving yourself no time to write. It also helps to read superior writing in order to really lower your self esteem and convince yourself that you are a crap writer so what’s the point anyway?
  12. Always ALWAYS over schedule yourself. It sounds almost too easy, but take it from me, it’s a winning strategy every time. 
  13. Wait until the last possible minute to begin a writing project. Now, I know there are those of you deep in the throes of your illness who recommend extreme writing.  You may, for instance, advocate always having an extra article or blog post ready to go. If this is you, DON'T WORRY! Better writers than you have overcome this dysfunctional tendency. 
  14. Have children. I’m not even sure you can practice not writing without them. If you are an individual that does not want children, then you are probably not really serious about not writing and/or have not yet hit rock bottom. 
  15. Spend as much time as possible dreaming up characters, plots and unforgettable metaphors but (and this is the really important part!) don’t actually write anything down! Just try to keep it all in your head.
If any of these tips can help even one struggling not writing writer to over come their compulsion than this post has been well worth my time. For those who have successfully learned to become not writing writers, please encourage others with ideas of your own. 


Patricia Stoltey said...

Perfect post for me, Sarah. I'm linking to it on my blog.

Dean K Miller said...

Yup...painting a bedroom this week, fishing on Friday to reward myself. Works every time and my wife is happy with my "writing", too.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My office is so neat right now. Guess I had a good week or so. I would like to add that having Netflix, not just regular TV, really helps you with marathon watching.

John Paul McKinney said...

Excellent. I''m good at not writing, mostly because I check my emails as often as possible.

M. K. Theodoratus said...

What a lovely respite from writing.

No. Seriously, I'm only doing social media stuff. Nice break from the salt mine.

{I'll be smug. I write first thing in the morning ... after I read the comics.}

Anonymous said...

Great post, Sarah! I've mastered #11. (Feed, by M.T. Anderson).


Kerrie said...

Great tips Sarah! It is amazing how many of these I am already proficient at.

~Shall remain nameless(wouldn't want people to know this about me) ;-)

Sarah Sullivan said...

Thank you for all the delightful comments! So glad to know I'm not totally alone in my methods.

Shirley Drew said...

Hilarious, Sarah! I think you've covered all possible strategies to overcome a writing compulsion! ;-)

Kelly said...

Great post! I do some of these really well already but thanks for new inspirational ideas ;)

Theresa Jewel Pinkston said...

I'm good at most, if not all of these. Here are some of my favorites. I practice many of them every single day.

****Browse Social Media sites and "Share" numerous items. Be sure to say hello to anyone you know online.

****Play Facebook games, Candy Crush and more

****Twist your hair and/or bite your nails

****Create a plan/schedule which tells you precisely what to do and when to do it (including going to the bathroom). Do it in 15 to 30 minute increments.

****Make your plan Perfect. No mistakes and no Misspelled words are allowed.

****Promptly ignore/trash the above schedule or, Better Yet, make another one from scratch. Doing your planning in longhand wastes even more time!

*Eat the messiest, greasiest food you can think of while writing in longhand. Maybe that spaghetti you drop will inspire you to CLEAN instead. No, I'm never that desperate!

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