More Creative Energy Considerations: is it procrastination, or gestating?

Thoughts on Entertainment, Writing

Another great post from Seth Godin:

Low & Slow (vs. fear)

My sourdough rye bread failed. For the first time since I’ve been baking from this starter, this weekend’s batch didn’t work.

I know why.

I rushed it.

I didn’t let the dough ferment long enough.

And then I made the oven hotter, in an effort to get the loaves finished so I could leave to meet someone.

That’s not how great bread works. It’s ready when it’s ready, not when you need it to be.

Of course, the analogy is obvious. Much of the work we do as creators, as leaders, as people seeking to make change–it needs to ferment, to create character and tension and impact. And if we rush it, we get nothing worth very much.

There’s a flipside.

Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that we’re building something that takes time, but what we’re actually doing is hiding. We stall and digress and cause distractions, not because the work needs us to, but because we’re afraid to ship.

Impatience can be a virtue if it causes us to leap through the fear that holds us back.

This is something I am often conflicted about. On the one hand, I do believe the creative well can be overfished, and some stories need time in the unconscious to develop (or gestate, as the book Movies in the Mind calls it)…but I also believe if you just sit down, the story shows up–and I’ve had the latter happen to me a bunch of times, even during times of great stress!

But I feel the temptation towards for procrastination when a novel or story leaves the first section (introducing the character in a setting with a problem). I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT COMES NEXT but usually the solution is to sit down and just have fun with whatever shows up next. Beat the fear by being willing to try.

But sometimes I’m genuinely tired and need a break, time to rest up and watch Star Trek and doodle aimlessly.

You have to show up. But also…

Animated Toy Story 2 GIF: YOU CAN'T RUSH ART says Geri the toy repairer.I’m just not sure which I believe more strongly! What do you think?

For writers who can’t turn off the TV: How to use Netflix to escape writer’s block and help you write more regularly


This year, my aspiring playwright friend Ghost and I decided to report to each other on our daily wordcount. Yesterday, she sent me this text:

I wrote for half an hour with no distractions besides sipping a glass of water right next to me.

It about killed me. I don’t know how you turn out those voluminous tomes.*

Now, I learned a lot of my productivity tricks  reading Julia Cameron’s Right to Write, including listening and taking down a story (versus “making up” things). And this year, thanks to Dean Wesley Smith,  I’m monitoring my consistency using an Excel spreadsheet.

But if ANY of you think I am some kind of monk-like writing machine, scribbling down stories in spartan room devoid of windows or cheer, let me state that I firmly believe that distraction can be a legitimate part of writing. Who hasn’t gotten one project done while putting off finishing another?

How I use TV to Escape Writer’s Block

Don’t get me wrong–there’s  definitely times where silence and focus are needed (in both drawing and writing). But I do a lot of drawing while a show’s on, and yes, I’m even “guilty” of writing while watching TV. (I rarely do that, though, because when I write, it feels like I’m tuning in to a movie-in-progress, and if I’ve got dialogue running on a TV, I can’t hear what my  characters are saying!)

But when I DO write while watching TV, it means writer’s block has shown up.

Now, writer’s block is just a code word for FEAR. Usually (in my case) as the thought pattern: “no way can I pull off writing this scene, I am not a good enough writer, I will never be skilled enough to make this scene sing.” At this point, I’ve usually put off writing the scene for a week. At least.

So when that fear shows up, I set the TV on to a plotted show. That way, while the critical (and frequently overwhelmed) part of my brain is distracted by the story onscreen, the other half my brain–the judgment-free, finger painting, for-the-heck-of-it, “why not?” side–gets assigned the task of writing the story I’m stuck on.

But since we’re watching a show, nobody takes it very seriously, which is good, because if you’re just goofing off, that means your Inner Critic can go to sleep, which is usually what you need to break through a block.

In my book, it’s a legitimate tactic.

Everyday Writing

Now, for everyday writing, sometimes I need something in between silence and dialogue-filled TV.

That’s where Netflix streaming comes in.

One chilly day, on a whim, I searched for and found a fireplace video to watch while writing:


Actually, the one I found was called “Fireplace 4K: Classic Crackling Fireplace”

Afterwards, Netflix began recommending me similar titles, which I now like to watch during my daily writing time. They provide a little noise or music when my nose is to the page, and something pretty to look at when I look up. Here are my favorites, as of 1/28/2017:

f26659b9f8c44f445faca1bec5f7fa3957c7356bJellies. One hour of psychedelic jellyfish boppin across the screen to electronic lounge music. I find myself tuning into this one A LOT.


Search Netflix streaming for “Moving Art” to find all 6 films!

Louie Schwartzberg’s MOVING ART series. Variety is the spice of life, so I like that there’s more than one of these. The collection includes Forests (with timelapse mushroom growth, eew/cool!), Underwater, Deserts (my current favorite), Flowers, Waterfalls (the first one I discovered), and Oceans (beautiful coastlines). These are all shorter films–about 25 minutes each–but every time you look up, you go WOW. Gorgeous production values. Bonus for having soothing and non-distracting piano music.

cc87c5a26140a35b31276008f37648ec89ce3a7eNatureVision. This one has more animals–and a ton of episodes, each differently themed–but I’ve only watched the first episode, and it was just (shrug) aight. Probably the music could’ve been better.

aquarium-for-your-home-saltwater-reef_70298699a7210ccb19678aabb0a170847476683cb7ee751dAquarium for your Home: Saltwater Reef and Aquarium for your Home: Goldfish. For those of you who can’t stand music, these companions to the Fireplace 4K aren’t too bad. I think the Aquarium is superior to the Goldfish, but then, I like that underwater bubbly sound more.

So those are some of the vids I run on Netflix when I’m writing to keep my visual brain entertained while my writing brain gets to work.Need more advice on how to write more? Leave your questions and comments in the comments section below!

*The voluminous tomes she’s referring to is my sci-fi novel Steel City, Veiled Kingdom, which isn’t quite published yet. But stay tuned!