Are you busy? Me, too. Let’s ax that sh*t now, huh?
I came to a sudden realization this week: I’ve become a total bullsh*tter. And it’s not that I’m conning others (though perhaps I’m unwittingly inviting them in as co-conspirators) so much as I’m lying to myself.
Let me explain. My current WIP is the sequel to my first-ever book, 12.21.12: THE VESSEL, entitled THE GUARDIAN (TG). I outlined TG way back early last October, literally days after I published the third book in a different series. I’ve not written enough books as yet to say on average how long a first draft takes me, but I can say when I’m putting my nose to the grindstone, I kick out about 25,000 words/month. Ergo, I should have had a first draft of TG done in 3-4 months, i.e. before New Years. Yet, here it is, the beginning of August, 10 months later, and I’m still only 52K words in. Now, granted it, I did take November and half of January “off” to write SNAPPED, but that still should have dropped beta Guardian in the late winter.
So why is it that the Earth is hurtling full speed to the completion of another orbit and I’m yet without something to shove in the face of my beta readers other than a litany of excuses? It’s because of that lie I keep feeding myself: I’ve been busy. And what’s more, you may be telling yourself this lie too. I think we both need to look at that whack, lame excuse and shove it where the sun don’t shine.
Unless you’re actually busy. I mean, maybe you’re a mom with an infant or a toddler. Maybe you’re a struggling university student taking 18 credit hours and holding down a full time job. Maybe you’ve dedicated yourself to finding a cure for monkey halitosis and have spent the last six months in some jungle hut, testing out cures in the field. But if you’re anything like me, you’re using this excuse of being “busy” because it’s the go-to, catch-all rationalization we tell ourselves and others when we either haven’t or wouldn’t do what we thought about doing. There’s a cult of the busy in our society, a ethos that believes a body at rest is a body in rot. Given the pressure to appear as though one is never letting an opportunity go to waste, we jump into the act of convincing ourselves that we are in fact busy. Uber busy. Can’t-even-find-time-to-brush-my-teeth-and-I’d-have-gingivitis-now-if-I-weren’t-so-busy busy. And yet, as busy as I am, it seems I get very little done. As much as I’ve made this poppycock excuse up, I should be showing up a whole village of Amish farmers with my bumper crops of produce. But I’m not. I’m not, because the *quality* or *pursuit* of what I do to keep busy has never been my focus. Just keep doing something, but something isn’t nothing and then you’re not being lazy, I tell myself.
I’ve spotted off this golden nugget of deception at least ten times a week for the last few months on why I’ve been unable to write faster. Yes, there have been occasional pockets of authentic calendar congestion (business trips, work events, the trailer for Tom Hiddleston’s next film releasing online), but they’ve been temporary and event- or task-focused. 90% of the time, when I’ve “been busy,” what I’ve actually been doing is busying myself. For example:
- playing Scrabble an hour a day on my iPhone
- Netflix: that black hole of creative talent. (not theirs, mine)
- Watching TV. Any TV. Even stupid movies from the 1980s I’ve seen literally hundreds of times from back in the day when my parents stole cable. (Sorry Mom and Dad. Everyone knows. They really do. But I think that statue of limitations has run out, so you’re good.) I tell myself this is because I’m a in career that depends on media trends. Yoda would say, “With this one thick the layers of bullsh*t are.”
- Researching neighborhoods I might like to move in after my kids are out of school. (Note: this is still years away).
- So. Many. Dishes. [Okay, this is in fact a necessity, but I’d prefer it wasn’t.]
- Facebook. If pseudo-business is a hobbling disease, FOMA is the third-rate crutches it limps upon.
- Various other activities that I’ll include under the generalized umbrella of “not writing.”
I heard a phrase recently that really got this nugget clunking around in my head: “You always have time for the things you make a priority.” To hell with this excuse of “being busy.” If I made myself pseudo-busy, I can unmake myself. I challenge you to consider if you need to do the same. Let’s go from being “busy,” to actually taking care of business.