The power of doing nothing

Posted: November 10, 2014 in writing life
Tags: , ,
This guy knows how to live.

This guy knows how to live.

Yesterday I did nothing. I don’t mean literally nothing – I watched about a dozen episodes of House and played some Minecraft, but in terms of writing, planning and other story productivity? Nothing.

This might sound like a backwards step in a month when I have immense amounts of words to get down on the screen, and when I’d already fallen behind last week, but actually it’s one of the best things I’ve done recently. The very fact that I was able to sit and watch that much TV without feeling the urge to do something else at the same time, that tells me that I needed a rest. And my shoulders feel much better for a solid chunk of time away from the keyboard.

We’re programmed to think of rest time as unproductive. Whether it’s Catholic guilt or the Protestant work ethic or capitalism’s demands that we participate in an endless cycle of production and consumption, we all have some voice in the back of our brain telling us to fill the time. Maybe yours, like mine, is less one lone voice and more a chorus. But resting lets your body and your brain reset, it lets them be productive in healing and recovering while you sit back and relax. And it leaves you all the more productive afterwards. Sometimes, even when you don’t want it, you need that.


NaNoWriMo update:

So yes, I’m now a couple of days’ worth of writing behind. Also I nearly finished my current chapter and need to plan the next one before writing much further. Hoping to get on top of some of it this evening, but the shoulders are still a achy and paid work has to be the priority. I’m trying to talk myself around to the place of accepting that I might not hit 50k and that that’s OK, while still staying motivated and aiming for it. And with nearly 12,000 words done already, even it I quit now (which I won’t) I’d have got something productive out of it. NaNo was definitely worth doing.


Photo by Umberto Salvagnin via Flickr creative commons.

  1. jhmae says:

    It’s quite a coincidence that you posted this today. I am definitely feeling like I need a break sometime this week.

    • Then I recommend doing it sooner rather than later – better to get a rest when it’s going to be a refreshing top-up rather than waiting until you completely crash out.

      Advice I should listen to myself more often.

  2. glenatron says:

    First day back from holiday and I have to say that today’s big lesson learned was that when you return from a break, you really need to remember to switch your alarm clock back on.

    Having watched a lot of people succeed and fail at Nano over the last few years, I am pretty confident you are well within the window for catching yourself up and carrying on with it.

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