April in Paris, Part the Second

Here’s the second in a series of thoughts and meditations on the words of some of my favorite writers from their interviews in The Paris Review.

It turns out it’s not that I hate to write. I hate, simply, to work. I just hate to work, period. I am profoundly slothful. Practically inert. I have no energy. I never have. I just have no desire to be productive. Now that I realize I don’t hate to write, that I just hate to work, it makes writing easier.

The Paris Review – A Humorist at Work, Fran Lebowitz

Unlike Fran, I desire to be productive.  Thirty or forty years from now, I’d love to have a phone-book-sized tome of The Complete Short Fiction of Don P. published, like Bradbury, or Ballard, or Card, or Ellison.  But like her, though, I am got’damn lazy.  Now, I have my own methods for tricking myself out of my own laziness.  I couldn’t possibly list them all, and different methods will work at different times.  But this post isn’t about that.  It’s about giving a name to whatever it is that blocks your writing–not the 101 reasons you might have for not getting shit done, but that single cause that’s there once you boil away your rationale.

Every writer I know or know of has reasons for not getting writing done.  Jobs, problems, spouses, children, children with special needs, parents with special needs, &c.  And yet, they publish.  But, while I firmly believe that if people who work their dayjobs while undergoing chemotherapy can still get their writing done, you can, too, this isn’t a guilt-trip post either.  I’m not going to tell you to just STFU and get it done.  Not in this post (especially since I already have in others). 

What I will encourage a writer to do is to get to the core of whatever it is that stops you and, aside from doing whatever you have to do to overcome it, to first just get off your own back about it.

See, I know exactly when I’m not writing for no other reason than “I’m just not feeling it,” which is fucking unacceptable.  Or, “I’m too tired.”  Or, “I’ve had a hard day at work and I’m just emotionally drained right now.”  Or, “I’m blocked.”  Pfft.  Bullshit.  I may or may not be treating myself fairly, but to me all those reasons have my personal laziness as their root.  And knowing that makes the next step surprisingly simple.  Because what am I going to do?  Cry about it?  To what end? 

Better to just make a choice.  To either CHOOSE to be okay and sit with the regret and irritation that comes along with not writing, or CHOOSE to use one of my aforementioned tricks to get myself back on the ball.  Because bitching about how I’m not writing gets old really, really fast.  Just ask Mrs. P.

Next time: The reason I write short stories.

5 thoughts on “April in Paris, Part the Second”

  1. How Conni makes herself quit being lazy: Freedom. It takes away my distractions (twitter, facebook, blogs) and forces me to focus.

    Aside from that, I'm a lazy bum, too. I find that if I have other things to do (Pilates class, errands to run, whatever), it forces me to make a little schedule in my head and get my planning/time management skills on.

  2. Conni, I couldn't get Freedom to give me back my internet!!! I am going to download it again but I hope it works better.

    As for me, well. I am too damn lazy, you're right Don. I have homework I must do but I go out on the town and then come home to try to do my homework and then after that it's like, 12 am and I'm tired so, we all know what that means. If I could be less of a social creature I could GTD. Now, with that being said, I'll have tons more free time next semester as I am not going everyday. I'll use the time wisely. 😉

  3. I've always wondered if I could trust myself to use things like Freedom. I know the way my mind works–dammit, see, already even before I've even thought about trying it, my mind has already plotted out, "Run it via Wine in Linux; that way if you had to go online, the reboot time is only 50 seconds." Gahh!! 🙂

  4. Ha! Working around 'net restriction programs via Win emulators in Linux? That's dedication to laziness, good sir.

    But yeah. Sometimes I feel like a tool when I compare myself to some of the more committed writers I know. That, however, is why I (virtually) hang around 'em–they motivate me.

  5. What scares me is the 0.2 milliseconds it took me to come up with that workaround in my head.

    Although, Lifehacker (potentially) comes to the rescue with the Five Best Distraction-Free Writing Tools. I might actually give FocusWriter a shot. It could be just the thing I need to replace my beloved PageFour in Windows.

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