Tag Archives: writing

Of Weeds and Roses

Life has a strange way of burying you when you least expect it and, maybe not so strangely, this often follows on the heels of your commitment to a big new goal. Sometimes this a bad thing, snowing you under with one disaster after the other until you’re sure you’re on some dark sitcom and the audience is laughing their patooties off at your misfortune. Sometimes this is a good thing and the ideas and opportunities roll in at blinding speed. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference because any change can be a challenge and all failure/misfortune is an opportunity.

Here’s a post I wrote in my early days of the Life List Club. It’s truer now than it was then. These days, changes are flying at me almost faster than I can keep up but I’m learning to be thankful for every minute.

The Wild Green Yonder
originally posted at Diana Ligaya’s blog 8/13/12 

This may sound somewhat familiar to you.

You commit to a big change in your life such as losing weight or becoming a published author. And, as soon as you set the goal and begin laying out your plan, the interruptions start rolling in. Likely, before the goal is even made public, your friends, family and strangers on the street are offering you goodies and distractions. A thousand ways to keep your goals postponed, the weight on or the words off the page.

It’s like the universe is conspiring against you and you have no idea how to stop it.

But it’s not really the universe conspiring against you. You’ve simply become an open patch of earth, waiting to be filled with wild green life.

Close Up of Raised Beds

You’re like a garden of freshly turned earth. Perhaps your goals are tomato plants or zucchini or a young apple tree. The moment you clear space for the new plants, you open a place for all the other wild green things to grow. They will fill in the garden if you let them, choking out the seedlings and saplings you’ve so carefully planted.

So, you have to tear the weeds out the moment they begin to invade. Right?

Not exactly.

Sometimes the dreaded weeds have their uses. My mother-in-law gets very excited about some of the weeds that pop up. She insists on harvesting them to make Korean delicacies before those weeds end up in the compost pile. For me, it’s the dandelions that thrill. The children and I love to blow the dandelion fluff off the spent flowers. One of these days, I mean to make something out of the dandelions. Tea and wine and salad.

 Dandelion clock

And, sometimes, there are treasures among the weeds. Nearly every year, we have a volunteer plant surprise in our garden. One year it was two sunflowers. They grew tall and nodded at the sun, delighting the children who pretended to be tiny fairies beneath the giant flowers. Another year we had a volunteer tomato, a lovely stripey green tomato. This year we have volunteer potatoes and I cannot even begin to guess how a potato ended up in the garden (perhaps it was one of those swallows that likes to carry coconuts around). If I’d have pulled every unsanctioned green thing out of the garden, I would have missed those volunteers.

If we tear out every tiny weed that rears its leafy head, we’ll miss the unexpected delights that come along with them. But, if we let them go, the wild growth will strangle those plants we put into the ground on purpose.

Just so with our goals. We must nurture those goals, watering them, clearing space around them and mulching them to protect from encroaching weeds. But we must also leave room for all the unexpected things, on guard against the weedy deluge but ready to see those things that enrich our gardens and protect them too.

For me, the wild green things are all the household surprises like clogged toilets and clutter that piles up, arguments between the children, phone calls and emails, and a thousand minor excitements and crises. But among those things are opportunities to play with my children, time out with my husband, calls from friends and family, and tidbits of knowledge that further my goals. The trick is knowing when to pull the wild green things and when to let them grow.

  Seedling

What are your wild green things and how do balance it so that your goals don’t get lost under the leafy tide?

Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Close Up of Raised Beds by BrotherMagneto, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Dandelion clock by rachelandrew, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
Seedling by _sjg_, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0

What Are the Fun Goals on Your To Do List?

(dipity.com)

It’s a holiday week, so that means it’s time to break away from the rules, bend the structure, and wear that naughty underwear no one knows you’re wearing but you!  😉

I’ve been thinking about my to do list a lot lately.  With Fast Draft over I couldn’t wait to have some peace and quiet for a few days, but now I feel like I’m moving too slow.  I went from hyper drive surviving off of cheese and crackers and caffeine, and now I feel like my goals are moving slowly but summer is flying by!

You know how when summer begins, and you have all these great plans about trips to the beach, lazing away in a hammock, vacations to tropical places, cookouts full of junk food, and a margarita in each hand!

Well, this morning I took Julie Glover’s quiz, What Kind of Summer Person Are You?  And you know what, I was a Summer Scrooge!  Me???  I’m not a summer scrooge am I?

Ok, so I’m still working 50+ hours/week, coming home and putting in a movie that came out several years ago and falling asleep on the couch.  It’s hot out!  Wisconsin is in the middle of an unholy heat wave!  100+°s and humid!  And the mayflies and mosquitos are at their worst.  Every time I’m out for more than 10 minutes I have 8 new bites on my legs and the vision of a lone mosquito pickin’ his teeth with the remaining bones of his last victim!

But I still made that summer to do list!  And I want to fulfill it.  Here are some of the things I wanted to do this summer, and I’ve got just under 2 months to make it happen.

  1. Take a road trip vacation with Joe out west to Yellowstone National Park.  – This one is happening, we’ve booked our campsite!
  2. Make it to the beach at least 3x.
  3. Watch a live baseball game.
  4. Visit Niagara Cave in Harmony, MN
  5. Tour La Crosse’s Historic Points
  6. Complete the Library’s Adult Summer Reading Program
  7. Have a Party in our Backyard- And you’re all invited!!!
  8. Lay in the Hammock as much as possible!
  9. Eat lunch at the Guadalupe Shrine.
  10. Maybe Get Another Tattoo.

So what are the fun things on your to do list?  Don’t forget to take time for the fun parts of life just as much as the serious ones! 

Albert Einstein’s Secret To a Creative Life

Do you think of Albert Einstein as a creative? He was.Albert Einstein during a lecture in Vienna in 1921

His left brain was hard at work in the fields of physics and mathematics. His right brain assisted the left in developing his theories.

He was exposed to music early in life and learned to play the violin. He fell in love with Mozart’s Sonatas and is quoted as saying, “Love is a better teacher than a sense of duty.”

A love of art in any form allows creativity to flow in the interpretation of the medium.

Einstein, himself, can explain his secret better via this  summary of a story I read about him.

In 1955, Jerome Weidman, a novelist, screenwriter and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who died in 1998, met Albert Einstein at a dinner party hosted by a New York philanthropist.

After dinner,  the guests were led to a room lined with gilded chairs and a setup for musicians. Jerome was immediately uncomfortable realizing he was about to be entertained with chamber music.

It wasn’t that Jerome didn’t want to enjoy music; he just couldn’t. He closed his ears from the inside as the music played and turned his thoughts to anything but music.

After a while he realized people were clapping. He decided it was safe to unplug his ears and he joined them in their applause. A voice next to him said, “Are you fond of Bach?”

Jerome turned to his neighbor and looked into this man’s extraordinary eyes.  He knew he couldn’t lie to this man…Albert Einstein. Jerome explained that he had never heard Bach’s music and didn’t know anything about him. Besides, all music sounded like just a lot of arranged noise.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to like Bach, it’s just that I’m tone deaf and I’ve never really heard anybody’s music.”

At that, Einstein’s face took on a look of serious concern. He took Jerome by the arm, led him upstairs to a book-lined study and closed the door.

Einstein began to question Jerome about his feelings toward music.  “Tell me, please, is there any kind of music that you do like?”

“Well, I like songs with words and the kind of music where I can follow the tune. I like almost anything by Bing Crosby”

Einstein smiled and nodded, “Good!”
Einstein went to the phonograph and put on a record of Bing Crosby. After a few phrases, he lifted the needle and said, “Now, will you tell me, please, what you just heard?”

For Jerome the simplest answer was to sing the words back to Einstein. He sang it the best he could and the look on Einstein’s face ‘was like the sunrise’. “You see? You do have an ear!”

Jerome thought that was nonsense. Einstein used an analogy to explain it for Jerome. “Do you remember your first arithmetic lesson in school? Suppose at your very first contact with numbers, your teacher had ordered you to work out a problem in, say, long division or fractions. Could you have done so?”

Jerome answered, “No, of course not.”

“Precisely!” Einstein made a triumphant wave with his arm. “It would have been impossible and you would have reacted in panic. You would have closed your mind to long division and fractions. As a result, your whole life would be devoid of the beauty of long division.”

Einstein continued to explain that a teacher would normally begin with something more elementary and increase the difficulty as the boy gained skills.
He likened the Bing Crosby music to simple addition and told Jerome they would go on to something more complicated.

With each more difficult set of musical phrases, Jerome sang them all back to Einstein. Einstein was thrilled with Jerome’s progress. “Now you are ready for Bach!”

Back in the music room with the other guests, Einstein whispered to Jerome,

“Just allow yourself to listen. That is all.”

When the concert was over, Jerome was genuinely applauding his praise. The hostess came over to chastise Einstein for missing so much of the performance.

Einstein and Jerome jumped to the feet to apologize. Einstein said, “I am sorry. My young friend here and I were engaged in the greatest activity of which man is capable.” Einstein put arm around Jerome’s shoulders and said,

“Opening up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty.

I guess a far shorter way to say this would have been something my 4th grade Nun used to tell us. “Stop walking around with your eyes and ears closed!” In other words, be open to everything beautiful around you. Don’t be afraid to experience or try new things. Creativity will come.

But I like Albert Einstein’s story better.

Creativity

As writers, painters, singers, quilters, woodworkers, cooks or any other creative you can think of, we often told ourselves untruths when we were novices.

Our inner critics would say, “You’ll never be any good at this. Why keep trying? Look at So-and-so over there and how well she’s doing. You should just give up.”

Some take those lies to heart and do give up. Others press on toward success.

The most important advice I read as I was learning the craft of writing a book was this (I’d love to credit the person who said, but I can’t remember who it was):

“Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

When just finishing my 1st draft, comparing myself to the likes of James Rollins, Stephen King or Christina Dodd is self-defeating.

My most important goals are to be the best I can be, never stop learning, and always be open to discovering new ideas, noticing the beauty of nature and cheering on others who do the same.

What will you do to open up yet another fragment of the frontier of beauty?

What are your most important goals? What lies have you told yourself?

Come back on Friday when Sonia Medeiros will be here!

And don’t forget that June 29th is the One – Year Anniversary of The Life List Club AND it’s Milestone Party time!! Woohoo! 

We Life Listers would like our readers to answer the same question all of us writers will answer: What goal on your Life List has held the most surprise or invoked the most unforeseen benefits/changes?

Post your answer in the comment section of our Milestone Friday post between June 29th and July 6th. The BIG WINNER will be announced on July 6th.

What sort of prize would mean the most to all of you?

#FastDraft: How to Do It Successfully and What You Learn Along the Way

(scarlettopia.com)

Hi Life Listers!  You may have noticed I haven’t been pestering you all as much lately on your blogs or on twitter.  And Facebook, well, I’ve barely logged in.  Don’t fret!  I still like you!

You see, I’ve been busy writing.  After attending the DFW Writers Conference, I met and am in awe of romance writer, Candace Havens.  Candace is amazing at getting things done.  She’s a film critic, romance writer, workshop leader, wife, mom and incredibly funny woman!

Candace Havens (examiner.com)

One of the key workshops Candace leads is a writing class called Fast Draft.  In today’s day and age, it’s not enough for writers to just write one book a year.  Not if you expect to make money at it.  The fact is our readers now expect the next book right away, and if they have to wait too long, they (and your publishers) might forget about you.  I wrote more on this topic in Celebrating My Writing Slump and Guerrilla Tactics For Writers.

So Candace champions writing FAST!  Fast Draft is a commitment to write 20 pages a day for 2 weeks.  In that 2 weeks, you would have a completed first draft.  Sound frightening?  Here’s how Candace gets you going!

How to Successfully Begin Fast Draft:

  • Prepare! Make it work for you!  Write your blog posts for the weeks ahead, put some meals in the freezer or save a take out fund.  Gift yourself with the time to write for two weeks!
  • Permission – Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.  Do at least some plotting work to keep you moving.
  • Get Rid of Your Internal Editor!  You are not allowed to read what you’ve previously written the day before, just make yourself some notes and keep going!
  • Tell Your Friends and Family To Leave You Alone!  Promise a romantic weekend away, a trip to a Water Park with the kids, whatever it takes to get them to agree to give you 2 weeks to write.
  • Set aside a specific time to write and stick to it.  If you have to break it up into chunks throughout the day, do it!
  • Do your research after you’ve written the draft.  If your book is set in the Himalayas, then put some brackets down and write: {Insert geographical key points of the Himalayas here}.
  • Write When You’re Tired!  Be Positive!  Believe in the Magic of Writing!
  • Clear away the clutter in your writing space.  Make sure your writing space is a clean and open one.

If Snoopy can do it, so can you! (christinemareebell.files.wordpress.com)

Hopefully, many of you are reading this and thinking “Yes, I can do this!”  But if you’re still struggling to get going, here are the other helpful tips Candace recommends.

  • Vomit your words on the page.  It’s easier to fix a page with words on it than a blank one.
  • Get a Team!  You need people to report to daily and hold yourself accountable.  Never allow 0 pages!  Candace says the only excuses for writing 0 pages are DEATH and a COMA!
  • Whining is not allowed.
  • Keep a journal with you at all times. You never know when inspiration may hit.
  • Experiencing technical difficulties?  Use a pen and paper!
  • Know that everyone hits a stumbling block.  Keep yourself moving forward.  🙂
  • Stuck?  Try one of these:  Journal, write a scene for a character and keep going, write your end, move to another chapter, use writeordie.com, email your partners and ask them to brainstorm with you, move around and stretch, leave yourself notes with ideas, if you make your goal, give yourself a treat, if you think of a previous scene, just make a note in your journal.

(word.pghfree.net)

It is possible!  And I can tell you this because I’m doing it!  I had the extreme pleasure of chatting with Candace while waiting in the LONG lunch line at the DFW Conference.  I told her she was the first person who really hit home in regards to having a similar schedule to me.  She has to drive to and from out of town movie venues, she writes her 20 pages a day, and she does have a family to take care of.  She puts in around 80 hours a week!

I work a 60 hour day job, keep up with my blog, and can now say I write for my book each day.  You know what, I don’t always get to 20 pages.  It’s rare that I do.  But I usually get to 10!  And that’s between 3 and 4,000 words!

Candace Havens may have saved my writing career.  You guys, I’m a terrible editor!  If you read my previous post about celebrating my writing slump, I shared how many false starts and re-starts and cut and paste starts I’ve tried!  I never made it much further than a few chapters because I thought it had to be perfect!  Now that I’m not re-reading my own work everyday, allowing my inner editor to tell me what a screw up I am, I am writing more and moving forward in my story!  That alone is worth everything to me.

Give it a try!  You never know what you might learn along the way!

Hungry for more? 

Kristen Lamb just posted 5 Ways to Get Out of the Comfort Zone and Become a Stronger Writer.

James Scott Bell blogged 7 Things That Will Doom Your Novel (And How to Avoid Them).

Or just hang out with the good (and tired) peeps participating in Fast Draft right now over at Twitter under the hashtag #FastDraft.

See you all there!  And don’t forget to share what Boot Camp or Baby Steps experiences changed your life and ambitions! 

Creativity Is Not Always Child’s Play

All you need for an excellent exercise that stimulates a young child’s imagination is a blank sheet of paper and a few crayons of different colors. A creative spirit and busy little hands will do the rest. It’s not so easy for us adults! While creativity can be as easy as child’s play, for an artist or a craftsman, creativity can mean painstaking work.

Creativity is also an integral part of any work environment, and it’s not surprising that creativity in business drives profitability.

Johannes Vermeer, The Milkmaid

The Magic and Wonder of Creativity
Small clumps of different-colored clay can make a bigger clump of multicolored clay. It’s one thing to mix ingredients and come up with something interesting. It’s quite another to conceive a totally new way of looking at things that leads to an unexpected result.

The work of a creative artist can make us pause in awe and wonder. Creativity can transform the mundane into the useful or the sublime. A talented artist only needs a handful of colors. His ability to create an appealing or emotional effect by combining a few available elements can translate into a magical outcome or the perfect result.

Creativity at Work

Quantum Leaps of Creativity
Some riddles are so difficult to decipher that we have to make quantum leaps of creativity to arrive at their solution. We intuitively understand that if you apply force to an object it will move. We quickly grasp why we need more force to move a heavier object. It takes a substantial leap of creativity to figure out that if you’re moving fast enough, time literally slows down.

Water emerges from two invisible gases, hydrogen and oxygen. Nothing about those two gases would predict what water is like. Quantum leaps dominate in creation everywhere we look but especially in the startling, beautiful novelty of life-forms on Earth.
–Deepak Chopra

Rules and Creativity: Putting Theory Into Practice
Fortunately for us, most creative endeavors have rules. If you want to write a convincing and emotionally satisfying plot, there are rules you can follow. The theory behind the rules was proposed in 335 BC by Aristotle and they haven’t changed much since. A painter’s knowledge of the theories of light, perspective and color enables him to create a stunning three-dimensional portrait on a canvas of two dimensions.

The Tedium in Creativity: Getting the Facts Straight
It’s a fallacy to think that creative work means you don’t have to deal with facts. Most novels contain narrative passages that require research. The writer has to gather and organize bits of general information, historical events and geographical details. A vivid setting with accurate details can help bring a plot to life and make the story realistic. Even a make-believe world has to be consistent and should be subject to some rules of cause and effect.

Where Creative Insights Come From
If you immerse yourself in the theory of your work and the facts of your project, creative insights will come to you like bolts from the blue when you least expect it. Creative people are those who are most receptive to their own intuitions. They know that insights come from their interpretation and understanding of basic knowledge and available information.

They have faith that a new insight will come to save the day. Every time they get “stuck,” they go back to doing something called for by the basics until they get another insight. They master the basics and stay in tune with their work.

Creativity Requires Commitment
All work requires planning and focus. Creative work is no different. You can’t carry out a plan and you won’t be able to focus if you don’t have time. It’s a valuable asset—and like all valuable assets—you shouldn’t squander time because it’s scarce. There’s never enough.

This is why making priorities and setting goals are so important. Setting priorities will help you manage your time. Having a goal will keep you focused.

What works for you when you need to be creative?

Gary GauthierGary Gauthier is working on his first novel, a crime thriller set in New Orleans just before Hurricane Katrina’s landfall. In real life, he works for a small publishing company no one’s ever heard of and that publishes books no one reads.

His blog, Literary Snippets, gives him an opportunity to express and share his appreciation for art and literature. He occasionally posts articles as well. Some of his favorite writers are Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe. But this changes from time to time. Stay tuned! Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus.

Executive Prerogative

Switching gears, changing lanes, executive decisions.

A woman’s prerogative.

There is a lot of work for a writer to do that isn’t writing. Building a platform before novel publication seems an impossible task.

WRITER: I’m a writer. Come read my blog!

READER: A  writer with a blog? How totally bizarre, unusual, and original. What do you write?

WRITER: My novels feature strong heroines with suspenseful, romantic and sometimes paranormal elements.

READER: Wow, that’s exactly the kind of books I like to read. How many books have you written?

WRITER: Three.

READER: Three? Oh, goody. Where can I get them?

(Insert sound of air deflating from balloon. P-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-t.)

WRITER: I’ll let you know as soon as I’m published.

Marketing takes time, and though one may be a writer, they may not be a natural marketer. Harder still, a writer may enjoy marketing their book, but marketing oneself is a little different, and can make some authors cringe. Me? I cry in a corner, then put my author hat on and come out smiling. The knee-knocking isn’t nearly so noticeable when I’m sitting down.

Yet we must have a platform. Agents want to know we have a network. Get on Facebook, Tweet until your thumbs fall off, join a writing association, build a readership.

The same stuff every other writer is doing.

What else, what else… Think-think-think.

Present a workshop. Neato! Except, teaching fellow emerging writers means you know something they don’t yet know. You want them to listen to you, you want them to lick the sharpened tip of their lead pencil and set it to paper, taking note of every ounce of wisdom that drips from your tongue. You want them to absorb each nugget of information on every slide in your presentation.

You have to be credible.

Credibility comes with sales. Credibility comes with publication.

Hark! I have a published book. Storyteller, my collection of short stories. SQUEE!

And one of my shorts won an award. An award named for an author synonymous with short stories: Alice Munro.

Yippee and yahoo! Now that’s impressive!

And so I drafted a presentation on short story structure, using my shortest short, Sweet Dreams, as the basis. Item # 3 on my Life List reads:

Workshop presentations

  • Short Story Structure, spit & polish
  • Platform before Publication, write
  • Seek out venues to present
And now, end of May, I look at this item and realize, this is not going to happen. At least not this year.
Sunny day, shade of an umbrella, glass of wine with a long-time, non-writing friend. Friend shares this innocent observation:
“I see your Facebook updates, but they’re about blogs and other writers. When do you write?”
The question stings, as valid questions do.
I work on my writing career a minimum of five days per week. I write an impressive word count everyday. And yet, I am four months behind my writing schedule.
Why?
I’m not working on my work-in-progress. I am not editing, I am not producing new words, I am not revising nor am I drafting an outline for the next book in the queue.  And y’all know I haven’t been exercising. Snort.

Image uploaded from Wikipedia

I’m writing blog posts. Necessary. I’m networking. Necessary. But let’s face it,
Something’s Got to Give.

Interesting that this phrase is also the title of Monroe’s unfinished film.

And so, the time has come to make decisions. Weeding out my Life List closet, I hold the hanger beneath my chin, press the fabric to my waistline, and twirl before the mirror.

The goal’s a little snug, but it still fits. If I pair it with a funky pair of sandals, I can get some use out of it this summer. A BBQ, perhaps? A day at the races?

Ah, but what shall I miss at home when I’m out exercising this workshop presentation goal? Progress on my work-in-progress?

Damn straight.

I have a decision to make, and so I make it. For the good of all else on my list, I shall sacrifice presentations. At least for this year.

First, I paraphrase Bobby Brown: I made this list, you didn’t. Right, Gloria? And then, I quote Bobby Brown, It’s My Prerogative. 

Oh Muse, Where Art Thou?

Photo courtesy Nicole N

Inspiration.

Imagination.

Creativity.

All three are words attributed to the occasionally elusive creature called the Muse.

While us artist-types rely on the Muse to inspire our current artistic endeavors, we aren’t the only people with muses.  Everyone has creativity, and needs creativity to solve problems.

Through the creative process, we move through the mundane to come up with unique and original ideas.  We use this process every day, from when we determine an alternate route when our traditional route to work is blocked, to deciding what to have for dinner.

How creative we are is influenced by our intelligence, memory, personality, attitude, mental health, and physical health, among others.  While some of these factors are beyond our control, many of them aren’t.  By altering those over which we have control, we can sharpen and develop our creativity.  We can grow our muses.

Exercise

Exercise is one of the fastest ways to influence creativity, for several reasons.  First, exercise decreases the effects of stress by releasing endorphins which positively affect our mental health.  Positive mental health leads to a positive attitude.  A positive attitude leads to increased mental flexibility, which makes it easier to be creative.

Exercise improves every aspect of cognition, including creativity.  There is something about activating the right side of the brain that enhances creativity, and instead of trying to explain it, I’m giving you the link to a fascinating article about it here.

Work on Your Working Memory

Working memory is also called short-term memory.  It is the part of our brain that stores information for short periods of time so that we can manipulate the information to understand and reason what we saw, learned, etc…  Exercising your brain, whether through brain games, chess, word puzzles, etc… you can increase your working memory.

Become a Brainstorming Genius

In the article “How to Get Mindpopping Ideas,”  Michael Michalko likens creativity to the universe, and creative ideas to the subatomic particles found throughout.   He gives three ways to harvest all those millions of ideas and thoughts while brainstorming.

Photo by Free Digital Photos

Observe and record each thought as a possibility.  The key word here is observe.  Don’t place judgment or value to anything your subconscious brain puts forth.  When we judge the value of our thoughts, we snuff out creativity.

Become inclusive.  When brainstorming, accept every thought as important and potentially valuable, no matter how crazy or random it seems. Creativity is the combining of elements in new and unusual ways.

Keep a written record.  Writing down our thoughts and ideas moves them into long-term memory.  Even if we aren’t consciously thinking of the idea, our subconscious is, and will create more and more ideas.

What are some ways you increase communication with your muse?

When is Wasting Time Not a Waste of Time?

surprise kitty cat

Meme me, baby!

We all know how it starts. One innocent little Google search leads to another and then another. Pretty soon we’re on  I Can Has Cheezburger, staring at page after page of cute/silly/stupid/funny animals doing whatever until our butts are numb. Or that one game of solitaire or Bejeweled turns into fifty (give or take a few dozen). Or, that search through the pantry for the candy bar we hid results in a complete reorganization of our food storage system which naturally leads us to finally alphabetize those DVDs and sort the clothes in our closet by color and season.

When we come to our senses, the guilt sets in. We’ve just wasted time.

*gasp* Oh the horror!

We all know how evil it is to waste time. After all, time is precious, time is money and wasting time means we’re throwing away valuable minutes and hours we can never recover. Whatever project we were supposed to be working on will take that much longer. There can be nothing redeeming about wasting time.

Or can there?

According to author and entrepreneur Seth Godin, wasting time well is key to a happy, creative and productive life. It gives us a chance to relax and experiment, to work on a project just for the joy of it. Time well wastes replenishes our creativity and is a boon to our productivity.

But what exactly is time well wasted?

That would be time that we spend freely playing, letting ourselves decompress and explore. When we are done wasting time well, we should feel refreshed, ready to tackle new projects and see challenges in a new light.

Clearly not all wasted time is well wasted, as many last-minute college papers and haphazardly thrown together projects can testify, but neither is all wasted time another form of procrastination.

The trick is to know the difference and to only waste as much time as we need to replenish ourselves.

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to waste time (well, I hope):

  • StumbleUpon: Flipping through web pages based on a particular interest is incredibly relaxing and inspires my biweekly Friday Stumbles.
  • Games on the iPhone or iPad: Currently, I’m playing The Tribez but I’ve also enjoyed many well-wasted hours with Plants vs Zombies. I do have to watch myself with games like these as it’s very easy to go from time well wasted to just plain old wasted time.
  • Rearranging stuff: Yeah, I know. Probably a weird way to waste time. But I sometimes get the urge to overhaul the bookshelves or rearrange the living room furniture.
  • Browsing bookstores and libraries with no real intention of buying/checking out anything.
What do you think about wasted time? Is there a way to waste it well? What are your favorite ways to waste time?
If you haven’t had the chance to check out last week’s posts, you’re really missing out. On Wednesday, Sherry Isaac talked about setting goals that make us strive and, on Friday, Marcia Richards talked about her ten commandments for living well.
Stay tuned, Gary Gauthier will be here Friday.
Photo Credit
Surprise! Another Cat Photo! by Michael Scialdone, on Flickr | CC By 2.0