A Hole With No Bottom


I only laugh because it hurts when I think about all the things I do when I ought to be writing. I’m terrible at task management. I tend to put things off until the last minute, or tell myself that I’m going to do one thing and then proceed to spend thirty minutes stalking that Ridiculously Photogenic Guy meme. (I was there when it was cool! I never get in on a meme until after it’s already lame, so that was a very exciting week for me.)

The weird thing about posts like this, is that I’m sure in the preceding four days my fellow writers have cited legitimate reasons for not having time to write, and much more eloquently. So I’m going to go the immature little girl route: other things are cool, and writing is hard.

I like to say that my work prevents me from spending as much time from writing as I’d like, but frankly I’m lying to us both. There are times, when I need to work more to make more money, where I don’t have time to do anything but work. But that is not my average day. My average day has tons of opportunities to write (and edit) in it, if only I were better at task management.

These are the things I do, when I could be writing instead.

  • Tend to the child. Sometimes we have to leave the house. Sometimes he just demands my attention righthisverysecond! It’s not uncommon that he will literally climb up my back. Once he just laid on top of my laptop.
  • Watching Grey’s Anatomy on Lifetime in the middle of the day, because my life is a cliché and if I sit with the child on the couch, he won’t be angry.
  • Tumblr.
  • Watching TV when I swore it was just on for background noise.
  • Finding something web-related to test.
  • Google Reader.
  • Reading the comments even though I know it’ll only make me mad.
  • Facebook.
  • Write 95% of a blog post, then draft it. Feel guilty about drafting it.
  • Twitter.
  • Clean something. Maybe.
  • Stare at open document. Commence gross sobbing.
  • Change my desktop environment. (In the month of November I changed my distribution three times.)
  • Install program I will only use once.
  • Spend 3 days picking a new media player.
  • Drink heavily with friends.
  • Recover from drinking heavily with friends.
  • Game.

It’s not fun to acknowledge that your lack of writing time is entirely your own fault — and I recognize that in myself. Whenever a writer gives the advice just stop wasting time and write, I have to remind myself that they can’t literally look through my computer screen and know that I’m skimming the beard tag on Tumblr when I said I would write 1500 words. I don’t work full-time, and if I had more discipline I could have done about twice as much with my writing as I have. In some ways, it becomes cyclical. When I’m in the habit of writing, I write. When I’m not in the habit, I tend to let it slide. No, it’s cool, I’ll write tomorrow.

I’m happier when I write. The longer I go without writing, the more useless I feel, and the more likely I am to watch Grey’s Anatomy and think, “They can’t possibly be airing these reruns in order. This makes no sense. Why did that guy knock up that lesbian doctor? Weren’t they moving to Africa in the last episode?” And then the worse I feel, the less likely I am to write.

Next thing I know, I’ve memorized my entire day’s television schedule.


This is why I rely so heavily on programs designed to literally block out everything else. It’s why I put on headphones and ignore the world when I write. It’s why I stay up late at night and get things done when my whole family is asleep. It’s why I thrive on NaNoWriMo and coffee shops and the world’s most supportive husband. Left to my own broken devices, in a normal environment where most normal people seem to be able to function, I can’t seem to make it work.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.

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