Some Rules

November 18, 2012

Struggling with a form of writer’s block (tiredness leading to procrastination), I thought I’d try coming up with a few ways of dealing with the terrible spiral of guilt, exhaustion and lack of having produced something. They’re in no particular order, and they’re rules for me mostly, so pick and choose what you want:

  1. Know what you do when you procrastinate. Do you go on-line? On Facebook? Play a game – with what? Eat? Walk?
  2. Lock yourself away from your distractions. This sounds obvious, but follows on from the above rule. If you procrastinate by going on-line, find a way to keep yourself away from it. When tempted, try just putting your pen down, and sitting doing nothing until the temptation passes. If it does not, then at least you have rested, and wasted time without the consolation of thinking you have been active. This will teach you, and make you aware of where the time went.
  3. Make a list of topics. These should be brief, and at the broadest level. My problem is that I have too many projects, and so none get done. I thought this huge number would mean I could write about any of the topics that interest me, but in reality it means I can’t possibly keep up with all the input streams. Don’t have more than three topics, at least at this level.
  4. Create input streams. Using and RSS aggregator (Google Reader or similar) create a page, tab or category for your topics. Be ruthless in removing feeds which do not fit, and know when a newly-discovered feed does not fit an existing category. These streams can be go towards your own analysis, or general tips on how to carry on an activity.
  5. Know when to go on, and when to submit. When procrastination hits, recognise when ploughing on will merely result in you producing something that needs total rewriting.
  6. Read from your input streams for inspiration. If your streams do not inspire you, reconsider that topic. If it is not one which makes you want to write about it, then what’s the point of keeping up to date? At least by reading, you are making progress, and the time saved can be used for production later.
  7. Get a routine. This is another great way to work out where the time went. You’ll get to know how long it ‘feels’ like between breakfast and lunch, and become better at knowing how long something will take, and when your time is up.
  8. Constantly input, constantly output, or do nothing. Our lives are full enough as it is already. If you are not processing information into something more usable and useful, or not creating something new from scratch, then why bother doing much at all? Stare at the clouds, or go for a walk, or listen to music. Give your body and mind a break.
  9. Never regurgitate, or plagiarise. No one wants you to, so don’t waste more time.
  10. Never try to scam. Don’t waste time, don’t be a waste of time.