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.