How To Not Write

Some tasks it’s easy to not do. I easily not murder people because I don’t feel any inclination to do so (usually). Writing is a different beast. I love writing. At least sort of. I’ve heard quotes along the lines of hating writing, but loving having written. The moment a story is finished isn’t my favorite part of writing. My favorite time is when I have an idea I love and I’m just about to start my project. There is so much potential in that moment. The story exists vividly in my head. I’ve written pieces I love, but never felt I fully transferred that vision in my head to paper.

This tends to cause me to stretch out that moment before the actual writing takes place, but I feel too guilty if I completely avoid the writing. I went to Catholic school as a child and developed quite a tendency for good old fashioned motivational guilt. I’ve learned to assuage this guilt and still avoid accomplishing writing. Here are my favorite ways to work on writing without writing.

Top Five Guilt Free Ways to Not Write

1. Research Your Story

This is the best way to go because it’s actually necessary. It can also easily end up leading to a journey into strange corners of the internet. For a fantasy piece I was writing I needed to research how far a person can travel on horseback in a day in order to come up with reasonable distances my character could travel. The question wasn’t as easy to answer as I hoped. I usually start my research with the laziest method possible and enter my question into google. I spent too much time on a trail started by a Yahoo! Answers. I learned about different amazing horse races that happen all over the world and ended up watching Hidalgo instead of accomplishing much writing, but I did eventually find the info I needed.

2. Research Writing

This is my go to way to avoid writing. I love reading about writing. I know I’ve done this quite a few times because I save most of my research on writing to Pinterest. Feel free to check out my writing board to prompt your own guilt free writing procrastination. Two of my favorites are the pin about Stephen King quotes on writing and Neil Gaiman’s writing rules. I love both authors. I also love Pinterest. You never know when you’ll come across information you might want later and Pinterest is a great place to save it.

3. Read Good Writing

As if I really need an excuse to read more books. I truly believe reading can improve your writing. There are different ways to interpret what constitutes “good” writing. What I believe is good writing doesn’t matter. Read what inspires you. Read to remember the magical power letters have when arranged in a pleasing manner.

4. Read Bad Writing

Bad writing helps me in two ways. First, it’s a good reminder of what not to do. Maybe the writing is bad because it’s sexist or lacking any sensible grammer. Notice what you don’t like and decide not to do it. The second way it helps me is by giving me a bit of an ego boost. Writing takes guts. If someone else can put bad work out their, I can share what I write. Heck, sometimes not so great writing even sells. I’m thinking Twilight here. What is the worst that can happen. You write something bad and people don’t like it. Who cares? You just disliked someone else’s writing and everyone is leaving the situation unscathed. Maybe you even learned a lesson or two.

5. Seek Inspiration

This is the easiest way. Do exactly what you would do on a normal day. Convince yourself that living life is the best way to gain inspiration for your writing. Those three hours of watching reality television in your pajamas could inspire the next great American (or whateverican) novel.

6… A bonus sixth option is writing a blog post about how you aren’t writing. At least there will be an end product.

What to you do when you don’t want to write but probably should be writing? I could always use more ideas.

Best Wishes,

Caitlin

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Book Review: The War of the Flowers

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams does what only the best fairy tales can, it reflects real dreams and nightmares into a world where readers can experience them on an epic scale. The main character is a hero of circumstance and certainly not one of choice. Theo Vilmos is a thirty year old teenager tossed into a terrifying fantasy world with just an eccentric relative’s journal for aid.

Faerie isn’t forests and The book came out in 2003, but the terrifying world of Faeries holds many parallels to today’s problems. Issues like limited resources, deforestation, immigration, droning (okay, dragoning), and civil rights get a magical twist. The book has a darkness that is reminiscent of Grimm Fairy Tales. The scariest part is how real the issues of Faerie feel. I wanted to riot for the right’s of Goblin’s and chain myself to Faerie’s lovely trees. Faeries seems to take on the worst aspects of humanity. Williams contrasts those worst aspects with Theo who may not be the best of humanity, but is at least trying to be good. The setting was so fascinating I couldn’t help feeling cheated that I didn’t get more. I would read a history of Faerie if Williams wrote it. Instead I was stuck with the understanding of Theo who is largely an outsider. It’s the difference between seeing a country as a tourist or with a native.

Continue reading

My Quest to Being an Informed Person

Step 1: Naively Decide I Want to Be Informed

In my head, informed people read newspapers and watch intelligent news shows while eating a balanced breakfast and practicing yoga. Which sounds alright but isn’t why I want to be informed. On an extrinsic level I’m participating in an debate program that makes it necessary. Intrinsically I simply enjoy knowing everything. It’s like being the person with the most secrets. In Pretty Little Liars world I am “A.”

Step 2: Read Shit

I consider buying an actual newspaper but they’re shape is awkward and stupid. Maybe my arms are too short or I’m doing it wrong but I don’t enjoy reading the physical newspaper. I turn to the internet instead; bonus points, it’s free. Start with most popular articles. Question why in the world are the most popular articles so popular while simultaneously realizing how quickly the internet has killed my attention span.

Step 3: Read Shorter Shit

Newspaper articles are long. I quit after the first article that makes me click to another page. Please, get to your point already. A few articles are interesting enough to merit multiple pages, but most aren’t. So I revise my strategy and decide to use Twitter to obtain my desired informed status. No one can be boring in that few characters. Turns out this isn’t true, but Twitter works out a little bit better.

Step 4: Realize I Know Nothing

Gain a false sense of confidence by only following a US newspaper. Add in some international news like Al Jazeera or the Economist. I know nothing! Why are there countries I didn’t know exist? What are all of these strange names? How the heck do foreign people pronounce things?

Step 4: Attempt to Know More Things

Set out to learn the locations of countries. Realize there are 196 of them. Try to make learning more fun and less daunting. Take this Sporcle quiz on countries. Do absolutely awful. Maybe the where isn’t that important anyways. Keep reading news and concentrate on the what.

Step 5: Become Jaded

web cartoon

Often I feel like the woman in this cartoon. The news is all death, economic doom, and Honey Boo Boo.

Step 6: Drown Sorrows

Decide everything will be okay because I have ice cream and a NetFlix subscription. Shut out the nasty world until it gets its act together. Reflect on the true bliss of ignorance. Write a blog post instead of reading more news.

Step 7: Self Deceit

Wait until a new day then hope that news is better. Repeat steps 1-7.

If anyone’s got better strategies on staying informed I’d love to hear them.

Best of Luck,

Caitlin