Thursday, October 04, 2012

The Art of Piddling

Have you perfected it? The art of being content doing absolutely nothing. I haven't though I'm getting better. When I used to be a study in constant motion, I had a friend who could happily watch paint dry. It drove me crazy. I put off retirement for six or seven years because I was terrified of waking up in the morning and wondering what I'd do all day.
Well, it turned out I retired to a whole new career as a fiction novelist, and much of the time that keeps me frantically busy. But I've noticed lately that I piddle more. I'm not so compulsive about doing something constructive every minute.
This morning was a perfect example. I was up at seven, but I knew I had all day to stay home and work (except for the time I worked with Jacob on his homework), so I dawdled, even though lmy goal was to write 2,500 words today. First it was emails--38 of them first thing in the morning, plus junk e-mail, which I clean out every morning. Then Facebook, which was equally busy--everyone commenting on last night's debate and,  yes,  I got my two cents in. Then some of the emails involved business that I needed to tend to, respond to and the like. And then there was the newspaper to read, although that doesn't take long thes days because the newspaper has shrunk to a shadow of  its former self--a fact that I much regret. The breakfast dishes and making the bed takes five minutes tops. Still no worry. I had plenty of time to write.
But I had to do my yoga--there goes thirty minutes. I try not to rush through my routine because I think that defeats the purpose, but I was beginning to worry about those 2,500 words, beginning to feel my compulsive behavior creep back in.
At ten o'clock I let the dog in and settled down to write. By lunchtime or shortly thereafter I was only 350 words shy of my goal--easy peasy. So this afternoon I piddled again--Jacob and I worked a jigsaw puzzle. Tonight I'll do those 350 words, then check some recipe magazines and read the novel I started.
Goal setting really is counter-productive to piddling, and I feel sort of torn between the two. But it will be nice to piddle a bit tonight. One thing I can't do: watch TV without doing something else. It makes me antsy. I guess my compulsive side is still winning. I wonder if age helps....

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