The Art of Not Writing

Everyone knows that in order to write you need to sit down and add to your word count day after day. There’s an art to it, but did you know there’s also an art to not writing.

Not writing also requires you to turn up at your desk with the intention of working on your manuscript, but it’s more fun because you get to make very little progress, all while still calling yourself a writer.

The art of not writing is achieved by…

Talking About Writing

And posting to Instagram about writing, even making schedules to write, but doing these things so excessively that you then don’t have the time to write.

Excessive Plotting

Another option that you can take to the excess is plotting. Some writers are plotters, some are pantsers, and there are even writers who plan and plot and still manage to fit in writing at the end of it. This is not you. You get to write up your plot points on index cards, jot down notes on paper, post-its, notepads, and in digital apps, which you will then spend your day organizing and re-arranging instead of writing.

Letting Fancy Software Do All the Work

If organizing notes sounds like too much work, you can get writing software to help you out. Instead of just typing out words in any basic program that will put them on the screen where you can see them, you can work out how to create files, play with fonts, change the background color, design a book cover, and compile to an e-book first. Learning to do these things before having the book written is much more important, and really will save you time later on down the track.

Organizing Your Writing Space

But what good is a computer with writing software if you don’t have an organized writing space? You can’t possibly write unless your desk is lined up perfectly and you have the ideal place for your tea to go (after heading out to the shops to find the perfect mug, of course). Then there’s making sure the room—and every room—in the house is spotless, because you’re looking for plot bunnies, not dust bunnies, and the plot bunnies might not show up if everything isn’t in its place.

Loading Up On Inspiration

Once you’ve appeased the plot bunnies with your cleanliness, you are then ready to write. To get yourself inspired it’s time to turn to what made you sit down and write your current WIP in the first place. This is of course that TV series that you’ll need to binge-watch all five seasons of before putting down a word. But before that, you have to re-read your favorite book trilogy for the twentieth time and work through the backlog of articles about writing you’ve been bookmarking for the last year.

Taking a Break

With all of the inspiration you’ll be absorbing you will also need to schedule breaks. Now, these breaks aren’t the for-the-sake-of-your-health-get-up-every-hour kind of breaks, they are the breaks you take after writing one sentence and then spending half an hour on Facebook. You put a lot of effort into that sentence, and you deserve a well-earned rest that will naturally roll into lunch time.

Refueling With Food

After you’ve refueled with a meal that took an hour to consume while you caught up with the news online, you’ll be well and truly ready for that second sentence. After writing said sentence, you will need to check the news again. We’re in a 24-hour news cycle now and you might have missed something in the last ten minutes.

Having consumed lunch less than an hour ago, you will also be due for a snack, so at this rate you’ll be well fed, well versed on world events, and have two whole sentences written by the end of the day!

Completing the Housework Necessities

Just in time for you to start your third sentence, the laundry you put on the forty minute cycle has finished, and although you didn’t spend that forty minutes getting a lot of writing done, you will, just as soon as you hang out that load.

With the washing on the line and the house quickly vacuumed again (damn those dust bunnies!), you did manage to add to your two sentences and get a whole paragraph done. Now all that’s needed is to Google the last word in your paragraph for proper usage, and research a random fact that might be related to that first sentence. There is no need to just keep writing and check those things later, because you’re a writer, and can easily slip back into your story once you’ve spent a few hours in the interwebs rabbit hole.

Finishing Up After One Draft

Wasting a few hours with “research” is no problem at all because finishing that one draft doesn’t take long, and subsequent drafts are for suckers. Those writers who write draft after draft, editing, closing plot holes, tightening up prose and playing with pacing are simply putting too much effort into something that can be achieved with the first words you type out. After all, as long as the idea is okay and your characters kinda resemble people in the first draft, why improve on perfection? Writing just one draft is so much quicker, and means that you can query publishers or throw together your e-book much faster than the writers who work on their book over and over again. Perfect isn’t achievable, but good enough is.

Now for the art of writing…

Sit Down and Write.

— K.M. Allan

11 thoughts on “The Art of Not Writing

      1. Abhijith Padmakumar

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        Liked by 1 person

  1. L.M. Durand

    This is so true! I’m finishing up the edits on my novel so I’m a bit disconnected lately, but you’re so right! Writing is all about actually writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks L.M! Yes, in order to get any writing done all you really need to do is just sit down and write. It’s easier said than done most days, though, which is why I wrote this post (and why I am currently looking on the internet instead of writing).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, really made me laugh at times and can see myself in many points. The art of not writing indeed…
    I love the simple transition to how much simpler it is to ‘sit down and write’.
    Lots of truth here!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m glad someone else gets my humor. It was really fun writing this. Most of the points are things I’ve done myself, so it’s nice to hear that you can see yourself in them too, and that I’m not the only one who sits down to write and does everything but.

      Liked by 1 person

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