The Most Productive Procrastination


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So I finished the rough draft of a novel, and I find it increasingly difficult to focus on anything else.

There’s a screenplay I should be writing right now. I started this thing called “Shut Up and Write”. The idea behind it is that you get four randomized screenplay ideas, created by randomly drawing note cards with actors, genres, professions and locations, and the combining those into little idea clusters, and then you write a screenplay with no planning, no personal stake, and no strings attached.

The idea is to not care if it’s good. The idea is to shut the fuck up and write.

A lot of people worry that what they’re creating is good. I don’t have this worry, because I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want to read. Therefore, the first fan of almost everything I write is myself, and so I’m almost always confident that something in any project I’m working on has merit.

This isn’t a delusion. I’m also pretty good about abandoning projects that aren’t working. I don’t incinerate them, though. I just put them on whatever is behind the back burner. Anything I’m interested has something cool about it, and at the very least I can cannibalize the ideas from a failed project for a new one. Maybe this scene is nice, but it would work better in this story. This character would be more fun here. Etc.

But a lot of people, especially people who haven’t written as much as I have, never get passed development because they spend all their writing time worrying about if what they came up with is good.

This is unacceptable.

Something about it is good, because you are a consumer of media and have a very discerning taste, whatever that may be. You know what you like and, unless you are Ted Bundy or something, there’s probably a group of people out there who like what you like too.

Novels exist that are basically big foot rape fantasies. They are, quite literally, about young women who wander into the woods and get raped by big foot. I have read one before, and it was horrible. Horrible in that it was morally horrible and also just poorly made.

There’s an audience for it. At one point, Virginia Wade was pulling in sixteen to twenty thousand dollars a month from her erotic big foot stories.TWENTY THOUSAND. A MONTH.

If there’s an audience for that, then there’s an audience for whatever the fuck you want to write about.

And I think that’s why I like writing. Sure, I hate Big Bang Theory. I don’t like Cum For Bigfoot.

But someone else does.

And the fact that I don’t like it doesn’t make the fact that they like it any less valid.

Who am I to say that Big Bang Theory is a garbage show full of stupid, not funny garbage jokes? No one, that’s who.

So goal one of shut up and write is this: just write. The die is cast on the first of January, and everyone will shame you if you don’t finish. Who cares if it’s bad? There’s something in there that isn’t.

There’s something in there that’s good.

That’s the second goal. We write, we don’t care and then we celebrate.

A lot of times when I get notes, I think people are too critical. I’m not trying to cushion the notes i receive by shouting “you’re mean and you’re wrong” to whoever gave them to me, but I think a good note is when you try to figure out what the writer wants to do, and then help them achieve that, rather than saying that something is merely bad. Everything is there for a reason. It’s your job as a note giver to figure out what the reason is, and then think about what you are going to say rather than giving your first gut reaction.

I see gut reactions so many times in notes. Gut reactions are seldom useful.

So we don’t give notes for Shut Up and Write. It’s the only time in the year we won’t give notes. Instead, we celebrate. We’re going to have a big party, where the wine and beer will hopefully flow like the Mississippi, and we will read the writer’s favorite scenes from their work.

We’ll assign characters, goof around, and laugh. Then we all clap and take a drink.

This isn’t softening the blow, though it may seem like it. If someone wants notes, they can send me their screenplay and I’ll give it the ol’ ruthless treatment. Instead, this is encouragement. Everyone needs encouragement, probably even Cormac McCarthy and JK Rowling. Hell, probably even Stephen King.

So that’s what we do.

And here I am, writing a blog post.

The cards I finally settled on were: Tom Hardy, The Everglades, Psychiatrist and Mockumentary.

I love Mockumentaries.

I love Tom Hardy.

I love the everglades.

This one practically writes itself.

Practically.

The practically is very important.

So here I am. I’ve got to head to work in three hours, and I’m participating in the most productive form of procrastination.

I’m writing a blog post.

I don’t really believe in New Years resolutions, but the first is as good a date as any to start something new.

So I’m going to try to blog twice a month.

Calm down, it’s only so I can trick you guys into buying my book later.

Ay yi yi… this post is a quagmire.

Maybe that’s my point, though.

Look at this mess above you.

I hope it’s a beautiful mess, because something other than procrastination gave me this idea.

There’s a kernel of gold among the mud. Can you find it?

I’m not sure I can, but it’s there.

So I’ll leave you with this:

I’m not sure what you’re doing on this Sunday, or whatever day it is when you read this, but today is your day.

There’s a new David Bowie album out.

The sun is shining, at least here in Los Angeles.

You’ve got some free hours.

Don’t fuck around online.

Don’t watch TV. TV is dumb.

Don’t read Cum for Bigfoot.

Don’t clean.

Don’t ___ .

Shut up.

Just Shut Up And Write.

And now….

Well…

And now, I think I’ll take my own advice.

And Shia’s advice, too.

 

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27 Comments

  1. Really, a new David Bowie album?! Perhaps a tattoo of your new moniker will help… but be sure to put in somewhere on your body where you can see it. 🙂

    Reply
  2. ameliemurphy

     /  January 10, 2016

    Very inspirational, and funny too. My blog today was a self-indulgent whinge. Tomorrow I will aim to be more positive, because you a right.

    Reply
  3. Thank you for this post. It was meant for me to read today. Encouraging. I needed this.

    Reply
  4. I’m new to this writing and blogging stuff and really appreciate your insight. I like the shut up and write attitude. I worry too much about if what I am writing is any good so don’t get a lot done, I’m sure that in whatever I write there has to be a couple of lines that are good, so i’m going to try it your way, thanks for your posting. This is my first visit to your blog, i look forward to reading more of your stuff. thanks for reading my poem! Michelle

    Reply
  5. “A lot of people worry that what they’re creating is good. I don’t have this worry, because I don’t write anything that I wouldn’t want to read.”

    This is such a good perspective to have – I’ll have to remind myself of this quote next time I’m writing. Great post.

    Reply
  6. This is the best one yet, dude. I love your perspective, and it’s one that I share. It’s hard to keep going in the right direction, but I don’t put anything out unless I love it myself. And you’re totally on par with the rest- stay away from dastardly distractions (Internet) and write. Power to the writers!

    Reply
  7. Grandtrines

     /  January 11, 2016

    Reblogged this on Still Another Writer's Blog.

    Reply
  8. What a fantastic and inspiring post! I surely laughed out loud a few times – because of the writing, because of the video in the end 😀 The great thing about it is that you really manage to inspire oneself to JUST DO IT 😉 !!! Funny enough, 2016 shall be a year of me just doing stuff… trying out new stuff – dare stuff… whilst thinking: who care’s if anyone likes it?! Thanks for this kick in the behind – I shall save this page and come back to it whenever I start procrastinating big time again 😀 Fantastic!!!

    Reply
  9. This was what I needed to read. Now I’m going to shut up. Thank you.

    Reply
  10. It’s a beautiful mess!

    Reply
  11. I needed this today. Thank you.

    Reply
  12. Haha, I like your grounded positivity.

    Reply
  13. Welcome to Procrastinators Anonymous. Hi, my name is Laura. I am a procrastinator…

    Reply
  14. Read my mug.

    Reply
  15. So why am I here reading this when I should be writing? If you hadn’t taken the trouble to like the post I re-blogged from my editor yesterday … Anyway, thanks for the like and the laughs I had reading your post.

    Reply
  16. Thanks for this. I like to write, but I am afraid that I suck, so I haven’t written anything more than an opening line in a few years. I think it’s time that I shut the fuck up and write!

    Reply
  17. dixiejarchow

     /  January 15, 2016

    I settled on 300 words a day or editing for an hour or blogging a day. Doable.

    Reply
  18. Great post! I love it! Now I’m off to shut up and write.

    Reply

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