Creativity as Procrastination

At times, I am a bit OCD.  When I encounter something new, that is to say something that is shiny, it can hold my fascination for a very long time.  I might obsess, I might absorb, I might hunt around the new object of my ardour on the intarwebz to learn more about it.

Thankfully these periods tend to be fairly short-lived.  I eventually lose interest in whatever the object du jour is, and return to the mundane world.  Possibly elements of my fascination will linger, and maybe a new obsession will become a new hobby or habit (such as my lunch time running seems to have become… I was even out running between the snows this afternoon!).  Other times it will get cast aside and forgotten, possibly for months, years, or even forever.

Sometimes this absorption is quite consuming, and I’ll spend a lot of free time thinking about it, whatever it, might be.  I remember a brief flirtation with Sudoku that had me hunting for puzzles whenever I came across a newspaper, even ones that did not belong to me.

How much worse, then, when that new, shiny, thing is not outside in the physical world but is inside my head?

Continue reading


Fog has cloaked the city for the last two days, shrouding us in muted, icy wool.

It was never like this back in the old country.

Sure, there was fog, occasionally, but most often you could see its beginning and end, or at least observe the cloudy layer it formed in the air.  There is nothing like seeing it lie low in a valley or, even more interesting, form a strata within the valley but leave the bottom clear.  The vagaries of air currents and humidity created a distinct environment.

But here?  The fog, or should I say the haar, is an all-encompassing thing.  When it comes, it is unrelenting.  Luckily, I do not drive here, so I do not share their worry, but I have ridden in cars and buses through the thick mist.  I would not want to be behind the wheel.

Still, despite the cold and the inconvenience, there is something magical about it.  This city is old and the architecture already inspires with crumbling facades and narrow, cobblestone alleys.  The centre of town cannot be thought of in two-dimensions, but rather you must account for the height of your destination as well as the names of the roads that cross it most closely. Stand high enough (an easy thing to do) and you can see the sea stretch into the horizon.

And then the fog.  It crawls from the sea, tendrils slipping into the streets and alleys.  It works it way from the docks, past the rough parts of town, ever stretching towards the heart.  Then those tall views are lost behind mist and the cobble alleys become something from a penny dreadful.  The city quiets, holding its breath beneath the blanket, anticipating something terrible, or wonderful.

From my window, nestled safely beneath my duvet, a warm cup of coffee in my hand, I see all this and more.  The vacant church across the street seems ripe for some dark figure to crouch there, in the mist, searching for prey.  Or maybe it will be a winged savior instead.

I watch the mist and hold my breath.

Words, not food

At my day job, I am ‘forced’ to take an hour lunch.  To me, the majority of this time is wasted.  Personally, I’d rather leave at 4:30 and just take a half hour lunch, but that’s not an option.  So, hey ho…

Now, one of the good things is I’m allowed to use the computer for personal business during this time.  Lacking internet access, I originally brought pdfs to read.  Then, one day, I hit upon the idea of working on ‘the other project’.  I’d spend about half an hour each lunch break writing and knock out a few hundred pages.

Well, then that fell apart.  So I decided I would start working on novel number two.  For about 3 extremely productive months, I managed to crank out 500+ words a day on my lunch break.  Novel two is almost 200 pages long because of this ‘wasted’ time.

Then I took a break and went back to the old country for two weeks.  Two weeks away from a daily habit is a long time.  When I returned, I could not quite get my head back into the zone.  Equally, though I had been taking walks as well, I started jogging for 15 or 20  minutes near where I work.  All of this contributed to two things: I wasn’t really writing much any more and I was much more fit than I had been in a long time.

The short story came along, and maybe I just needed a break.  I’ve been cranking out 250-350 words a day for awhile.  As I draw nearer to finishing the story, I’ve found myself speeding up.  Today I managed a massive 600 words!  Due to this, the short story is nearly finished.  I’ve had the first major ‘reveal’ and now all I need is the final climax and she’s a wrap.  Granted I fear it will be a 10000 word ‘short story’ by that point, but c’est la vie.

If I can share any bit of advice to other writers, it is this: take your time to write when and where you can find it.  I’m a captive audience at work.  When I started this job, I brought books to read and read news papers and did other things to fill my time.  While those endeavors were entertaining, they did not get me anywhere.  I find I’m often worn out after work and find it difficult to write.  But lunch time?  That’s my time.  And stick to a regular schedule!  Deviation caused me to drift away from my efforts and I lost my way for awhile, even though before the trip I couldn’t imagine not writing during the day.

I’m going to have to see if I can force myself to put in some time over the holidays.  Wonder how well that will go?