I agree with Jo Walton in response to the question What’s Reading For? at Tor.com: reading is for fun. Reading is for getting lost in a world not one’s own. As far as I know, there is no other way to get absolutely inside another person’s head, and that’s enlightening, educational, inspirational — but mostly fun. Don’t read what you feel like you ought to read; read what you want to read.
Another thing that Walton says in this little essay that I find downright inspirational:
I want to do those things, too! Mostly because they also sound like fun.
I remember when writing used to be something I did solely for fun, when I would write just to play around with words. I created collage poems out of words and pictures cut from magazines. I tried to make up my own acrostics and crosswords. I wrote stories as a form of play — playing with an idea, a structure, something that someone else had written.
I think one reason I don’t write as much as I used to or would like to is because somewhere along the way, I lost that sense of having fun with it. Is it because I’ve grown up? Is it because I think I shouldn’t do anything anymore unless it’s productive or results in a paycheck, because that’s we are taught to think that adults do. Adults don’t play; we work.
Or is it because I’ve been told over and over again that to be a writer, one must be tortured, obsessed, possessed? Writing is something you do because you have to, not because you want to. Above all, it is not fun.
Probably it’s a combination of all of the above. One thing I do know — I miss writing just for fun. I want that back in my life.
After reading this – Elizabeth Gilbert Versus Philip Roth: Is Writing Torture? in The New Yorker – I have to declare that I completely respect Elizabeth Gilbert’s point of view. She has not lost her sense of fun or play. She can’t believe she actually gets to write as a job.
Doesn’t that seem preferable to the old “tortured artist” routine?
Also worth reading: Elizabeth Gilbert’s thoughts on writing.
From the New York Times: Relax! You’ll Be More Productive. We work best in 90-minute intervals, just three per day, with rest breaks in between. By “work,” I mean creative or highly focused work. For example, alternating mental work with physical breaks might be a good strategy.
The author gives a potent example. He wrote his first books the “old-fashioned way,” by sitting at the computer for 10 hours at a time; each book took a year to write. Then, he tried writing a book by working just 4-1/2 hours per day, in 90-minute intervals; it only took him 6 months to write the book. The point is that working less and producing high-quality work trumps working more and producing crap.
I recently turned off all the email notifications on my mobile devices. Pretty much all of the email I get is non-urgent, so why do I need to be notified right away whenever I get a message? Actually, I don’t. It feels like I cut the electronic umbilical cord. I am only checking email two or three times a day, on my schedule.
Like the telephone, email has become almost useless but still necessary. I still do quite a lot of work on email, and it’s important that people be able to get in touch with me easily that way. But I get so many unnecessary emails each day, so many social-network updates and newsletters and notifications of “deals,” that the noise of it overwhelms me. By turning off that little email notification icon on my phone and tablet, I turn off the perceived urgency of email. Rather than email ruling me, demanding that I read and respond when it comes in, I can now manage it, on my own terms.
So how do people get a hold of me? Surprisingly, Google+ has become the best way. Many of the people who I want and need to talk to on a regular basis use Google+, and there is very little noise (so far). Pretty much every conversation initiated on Google+ is a conversation I want to have. So I have left the Google+ notifications on. A phone call or a text are also effective if a quick response is needed.
Notifications from other social networks or from my blogs are generally non-urgent, so I deal with them when I read my email–once or twice daily. It’s such a simple thing, but turning off non-urgent notifications on the devices I always have with me has removed a big stressor from my life. Would you consider turning off your email or social network notifications, or would you miss not being immediately informed?
Through a post on I09, Walt Whitman’s “When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer” in Comic Form, I discovered the blog, Zen Pencils, which translates all kinds of wisdom — not just poetry — to comic form. I found #98, Alan Watts: What If Money Were No Object? to be particularly inspirational.