Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Less Consuming, More Writing

For someone who thinks of himself as a writer, I don't spend nearly enough time actually performing the act of writing.  I always feel bad about this, of course.  "I really should be writing" I tell myself, but there's always another level to beat, another chapter to read, or, more recently, another wall to paint.

Actually that last one really is a valid excuse, but the others are not.  Right now, I spend a little too much time "consuming."  I have that down pat.  I'm not a big TV person, although living with cable in the house has changed that.  I certainly watch more TV than I used to, but I'm still pretty far down on chart for overall viewing time.  I do, however, spend a good chunk of time playing video games and a significant chunk of my time reading.  Video games are at least interactive so I'm participating rather than simply absorbing, and I'm often co-operating with friends.  Still, at the end of the game, all I've got to show for my time is another pile of digital trophies, the modern equivalent of a high score.  That's nice, I guess, but not all that fulfilling, and not something I'd be proud to put in the annual family newsletter.

Books are just about the same.  I consume them and at the end I have a new experience, something I can talk about with others who have read the same book, but not much to write home about.  It can be enriching and, especially if I want to be a good writer, it's necessary to build up piles of these experiences but that's not really a concern for me.  By this point in my life, I've probably read more books than the next five people combined so I could probably afford to slow down a little.

Also, there's the Internet.  I think I may have mentioned my inability to walk through a room without stopping if someone is watching a TV show in that room.  Well, the Internet is worse.  I just get sucked in.  Stop to check one thing, don't surface for hours.  And it's all crap!  I occasionally find a useful resource or an insightful writer, and I'll follow that for a while, but it's not what I gravitate towards.  Those "getting sucked in for hours" incidents are mostly webcomics or internet fiction (sort of like reading books but much more variable in quality).

I just finished reading Clay Shirky's "Cognitive Surplus" which is all about how people are starting to use their free time in more productive ways than simple consumption.  It's a decent book, ties in to some things Bruce Sterling claims about spimes and wranglers, namely that our culture is headed towards a more participatory model: one where "amateur" is no longer a slur on the quality of work.

In other words, I'm feeling more guilty than usual about not posting anything here for a while.  Blogging isn't the most culturally beneficial form of participation, but it beats re-reading webcomics.  And besides, for a variety of reasons (guilt included), I've had a burst of inspiration in my fiction.  I'm producing there again, too, and, as with the end of every previous hiatus in my writing, I realized just how much I missed doing it.  I really do love this thing I claim to do but never quite get around to.

Clearly I haven't solved my procrastination problem.  There are a number of factors here, many of which I know and recognize, but I haven't quite worked out how to fight it yet.  Guilt is not a particularly healthy or (ultimately) effective motivator but at least it will get me started when I stop too long.  I'm not going to promise anything, I'll work on the doing instead.


Molly said...

So, if books are consuming, but only interactive when you reach other people who have read those books, maybe you should write (blog) in more detail about the books you read?

Sonny said...


JosephAlsarraf said...

I know what you mean. I have the same problem.

Ritwika Raha said...

Really worth reading!!