Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Games, Calories and Procrastination

by Janis Patterson

Whoever put games like Solitaire (Spider or Regular) and Free Cell on computers has a lot to answer for.

Now that’s a pretty harsh statement, but any writer can identify with it. You have a deadline. You have a tangled sentence, or a clunky paragraph, or a bit of action that just doesn’t ring true. You need to apply some heavy-duty brain power to it, but your mind won’t cooperate. Perhaps a bit of mindless hand eye action will aid in sharpening your concentration. Or maybe it’s a scene you really don’t want to write for whatever reason or it is so intense you need a break… a quick game of Solitaire wouldn’t hurt and it will give you a breathing space…

We’ve all done it, and before you know it, half an hour or even an hour has gone by, you’ve barely thought about your writing but you have upped your win percentage to 63%. Worse yet, you feel proud about it!

Let’s face it – writing is hard work. Even bad writing can be hard work. If the energy we put into writing burned calories (and WHY doesn’t it?) we would all be size 0 wraiths. We do need breaks occasionally just from the intensity of our stories and a quick game of (electronic) cards can be just the relief we need.

The key word in the sentence above is ‘game,’ which is most definitely singular. Games, unfortunately, are like potato chips. Taking just one is simply impossible. But, you say, all you need is self discipline. True, but how many of us have that kind of discipline? You’ve been working steadily for an hour or two, the words are tangled in an impenetrable Gordian knot, you have a deadline looming and your brain is fried mush. Sometimes discipline just isn’t enough – or, to use a more homely and telling comparison, it’s like putting a great big bowl of chocolate in front of a starving dieter. Surely just one piece… and before you know it the entire bowl is gone and you are rampaging through the kitchen looking for more.

Perhaps all of you have more self control than I; you probably do – both for writing and for chocolate. You could hardly have less. Still, we can but do our best, and that includes ignoring the siren call of mindless games… and chocolate.

Now I must go back to work, but the situation I have my characters in is daunting and must be straightened out. Maybe just one game before I start, just to clear my mind. Besides, it’s bothering me that that I dropped a point on my win percentage yesterday and I know that worrying about it will affect my writing…


Whoever put games like Solitaire (Spider or Regular) and Free Cell on computers should die!

6 comments:

Cheryl said...

Made me laugh! I, too, suffer from computer induced procrastination. Solitaire is a favorite, but I'm just as likely to loose large swathes of time playing on Twitter or Pinterest. So many happy shiny things! And, yes, why doesn't writing burn tons of calories? It can be every bit as exhausting as a jog around the park! Thanks for a fun post.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

Cute but so true!

Games don't add to my procrastination...Reading does LOL

Good luck and God's blessings.
PamT

Linda Thorne said...

Well, this hit home, and I bet for a lot more than just me and a few of the bloggers here. I like the comparison to trying to eat one potato chip. You got that one right-on.

Shalanna said...

What people don't realize is that it's just as much work to write a bad novel as it is to write a good one. LOL! I use an AlphaSmart instead of a laptop so that there are no distractions. This is a little keyboard developed for schools that shows four lines of text and you can edit and save quite a bit of text for later transfer to your big computer/word processing software. I also use pen and paper, which accesses a different part of the creative brain (no, REALLY!) It doesn't help that writers are easily distracted. Look, shiny!

Earl Staggs said...


I'm with you, Susan. You kill the guys who invented those games and I'll help you dispose of the bodies.

Mar Preston said...

Unfortunately, I'm an expert spider solitaire player. I wish to hell I'd never heard of it.