Saturday, February 2, 2013

Just Close It

"If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality." - Benjamin Franklin

"I do not want to waste any time.  And if you are not working on important things, you are wasting time." - Dean Kamen

A few days ago (January 5th, to be precise) I talked about the importance of naps.  Leisure is of course one of the more important things for us to integrate into our schedules, simply because most of us cannot continuously function at anything resembling a high level for long periods of time.  It's not wishful thinking or sloth that requires us to rest, then; it's mere biology.

The problem, though, is when it gets to be too much.

Yes, you know what I'm talking about, too, don't you?  In my case, my wife encourages me to go play around on Facebook for a while after work.  She and I both need it to keep me from exploding into a grumpy mess of grumpiness.  But--BUT!--I only need a certain amount.  Where I have trouble is once I've rested and relaxed, getting back to work.

My answer?  Just close it.

When I was beginning to write in a real, wordcount-sensitive manner, I read an essay on the habits and life of the award-winning titan of literary fiction, Jonathan Franzen.  He does his writing, according to the article, on a laptop that isn't connected to the Internet at all.  The article even featured a picture of said laptop, and indeed, it appeared to be quite lonesome sitting on the desk connected to nothing else in the world save a rather boring sixty Hertz signal of power.  That's his method for just closing it.

I can't do that, though.  For one thing, my memory of the technicalities of English etymology isn't perfect.  In other words, I can usually but not always spell words write.  Er, right.  And when you use a word over and over in a wordy sentence or paragraph, repeating the same word makes the reader notice the word, which becomes a stumbling block for the reader.  Thus, you want to choose your words so that you do not repeat the same word over and over.  Right?

Write right?

Fact is, I think I do own both an actual dictionary and an actual thesaurus somewhere over in the side of the house that will someday likely collapse under the weight of all of the books.  But they're over there, and I'm over here, safe from said potential collapse.  They're slow, anyway.  Remember how I used the term etymology a few sentences ago?  I couldn't recall the word, honestly, when I wanted to use it.  But Firefox has this nifty little search box that, as long as you're connected to the Internet, you can just type "the study of words" into and presto!  Etymology was right there on the next page that loaded.  In fact, if you look at that little box on my browser at random times, you'll most likely see either definition or synonym followed by a word.

No, I can't write without the Internet.  Well, I probably could, but I would be much slower at looking stuff up.

I can, however, write without Facebook open.

I've tried it the other way, leaving Facebook open.  If it's open but not in the active window, it's not bothering me, right?  Wrong.  As soon as I get a notification, the name of the window changes from "Facebook" to "Facebook (1)" and that little number drives me batty with curiosity. 

So I have to close it.

Sometimes I'll make a grand announcement.  "Hey, all," I'll write on my own timeline, "I'm headed out to write for a while."  It's fun to do that and come back later to see from all the Likes how much everybody appreciated my absence--I take that as a compliment to my writing from my readership rather than an insult from my friends.  Hey, it's my world to interpret.  Sometimes, though, I'll just sneak away--close the window with a little naughty twinge of guilt.  After all, what will my friends do if I'm not there to Like their pretty pictures of kitties?

Eh.  I've got three novels to finish.  Four, if you count the Alaskan romance I started writing several months ago.  Kitties can wait.  I think Benny Franklin would have agreed with me, don't you?

So tell me--what are your biggest (and guiltiest) wastes of time?  Can you just close them?



  1. Free Cell - when I am stressed, I buy a few minutes, and think of nothing else but organizing those cards :) Great post - love your definition of a "sec." :)

  2. I'm the same way about writing and Thesaurus. My problem is that I always think of really obscure words, so I look up synonyms that my readers will be more familiar with.

    Biggest waste of time besides Facebook? Definitely Etsy.

    And obsessing over the same word/phrase until I find the exact one I want.