Playing hooky

They say procrastination is the thief of time, but sometimes it has its advantages.

Last weekend I fully intended to get down to some serious writing. I switched on the PC, checked my emails (displacement activity no.1) and was all set to exit the internet for the day (displacement activity no.2 – I have to be firm with myself otherwise time just fritters away), when I decided to have a quick peep at my daily horoscope (displacement activity no.3).

What a delight! My astrologer of choice told me to take a day off. She also predicted that whilst I was busy doing nothing, I would have a brilliant idea. She explained that this would happen if I distracted my conscious mind, because it would allow my creative mind, or subconscious, to roam free.

I already knew this; I’ve often temporarily abandoned efforts to sort out a complicated plotline because the connecting details refused to fit together. Then, overnight, or during the weekly shop or the washing up, the missing element would just pop into my mind. It’s a great feeling and I have faith that it will happen, but I don’t often give myself permission to take the day off and see what develops when my attention is elsewhere.

Remember those times when a piece of work almost wrote itself? When you’re so immersed in the story you feel as if you’re living it? Ideas spark, one after the other and you struggle to get them all down. That’s when your creative mind is working full tilt. Ideas often happen when you least expect them. Your conscious mind might be thinking about trivial, mundane matters, but your subconscious is beavering away behind the scenes, working out that knotty plot problem without you even realising it.

The trick is: don’t force it. Trust your creative mind to come up with the goods. Give it some space and let it get on with it. Play hooky. Goof off.

Oh, and by the way – I did have a brilliant idea on my day off and a major piece of my plot jigsaw has slotted neatly into place. Have a nice day.


9 thoughts on “Playing hooky

  1. Displacement activities–I like that term. Sounds so much better than the term “wasting time.” Euphemisms are always more pleasant. I need to start doing a lot less displacement myself.

  2. Good advice. But of course, I wouldn’t employ it all of the time; sometimes, just working on your writing crops up ideas on its own, creating itself on the page.

    It’s really what I should be doing now. I’ve been procrastinating too long already…

    • You’re right, of course. Ideas prompt more idea when you’re in the zone. But when you’re not, it’s sometimes better to put the piece to one side rather than try and force it. Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  3. Displacement activities, hmm, such as reading and commenting on blogs?! I’m struggling with rewrites, and I wish some of those ideas would come to me when I’m doing laundry or shopping. I know they will, but sometimes it’s hard to be patient.

    It’s hard sometimes, to just goof off. My brain starts thinking about the day job or other non-helpful things!

    • And then there are the times when absolutely brilliant ideas spring into your mind when you don’t have pen and paper to hand – mine usually happen when I’m in the shower or the swimming pool – and you can actually feel them fading away, like the Cheshire Cat, until all you can remember is that you should be remembering something but you can’t remember what it was. It’s a very annoying symptom of age, so something for you to look forward to, or maybe it’s just me….? 🙂

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