Displacement activity

I’m supposed to be doing a big document for something. I don’t like doing big documents. I’ve spent so long rolling out 500 to 2,000 word pieces that I find that really, trivially, easy. Now ask me to write 10 k words and it looms like some monstrous difficulty, rather than that it is, 5 pieces that I can do trivially. I know this, it just doesn’t transfer from intellectual knowing it to doing it easily.

Also, a slight further difficulty in that I’ve got to think about this.

However, I am now recalling the power of displacement activity. I’m days and days ahead in my normal tasks, have cleared up all the odd payments, unfiled invoices there were, inquired about this and that that I should have, nailed down the price for that odd lot of weird metal that I’ve been offered…..done, in fact, absolutely everything except the one main task in front of me.

And, umm, written a blog post about how I’m avoiding doing that main task by writing a blog post…..

Presumably, if someone insisted that I must do something else I want to do even less then I’d get it done, right?

26 thoughts on “Displacement activity”

  1. Perhaps subcontract to a ghost writer Tim?

    There’s a guy in Ely who has a lot of time on his hands and a real facility in producing long rambling docs that are so turgid few finish reading them so you could write pretty much what you like safe in the knowledge that not many would be able to criticise your conclusions, having not reached them.

  2. BraveFart makes a good point, but I think I should insist that you go back and read all his works first to make sure the documents really are as good as he says. That should motivate you…

  3. Now ask me to write 10 k words and it looms like some monstrous difficulty

    Write a 50 word version. Then write the beginning, and then the end. Write – separately – the paragraphs you *know* you have to say to make the points you want to make. That’ll probably give you a big chunk of the 10k. Expand on what you’ve done where necessary, and write the words to connect it all. Putting a structure around something makes mammoth tasks much easier to manage.

  4. I would like to employ you to write an unconditional endorsement of the economic policies of the Labour party in the UK.

    There, has that solved the problem? Or just discovered your ethical limits?

  5. Get started early; as Mr Tim says, bang out a skeleton. If there are any diagrams needed then produce them. Print it all and then stick it away while it matures in your mind. Perhaps occasionally pull out the paper and scribble ideas on it. Then as the deadline looms pull it out from your drawer and knock the job off: it’ll be all the better for the thinking time in the middle.

  6. Further to Watchman’s offer…

    How about popping round to Bilbao to cut my lawn with a pair of nail scissors?

    That article look more attractive now?

    Go, Tim, go!

    We know you can do it!

  7. I understand that in cases of writer’s block or laziness, a Mindmap or Venn diagram or two might clear the way to a lucid article.

  8. I can do no better than quote the great Deirdre McCloskey’s Economical Writing:

    ‘Sitting down to write can be a problem, for it is right then that your subconscious, which detests the anxiety of filling up blank pieces of paper, suggests to you that it would be ever so much more fun to do the dishes or go get the mail. Sneak up on it and surprise it with the ancient recipe for success in intellectual pursuits: locate chair; apply rear end to it; locate writing instrument; use it.’

  9. Procrastination? During my final exams at university I cleaned the house from top to bottom and packed all my bags prior to starting revision, which ended up commencing just 48hour prior to the actual exam, I was that focused on not doing it. I got 78%, too.

    Only strategy i find that works is saying, right, I’ll just do $task for 5 minutes then stop for a coffee. 2/3/5 hours later it’s done and I’m desperate for caffeine…

  10. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Ah! Another procrastinator!”

    Aren’t we all when it comes to sitting down in front of a blank screen?

    As an old Irish colleague as fond of saying, nothing would ever get done if it wasn’t for the last minute.

  11. BiND,

    I suggest a revision of the clock, so that 95% of each hour is the last minute of that hour, with the other 59 minutes squeezed in the first 5% of the hour. That would dramatically increase productivity. At least for those who didn’t have deadlines at 4.30 or whatever…

  12. Bloke no Longer in Austria

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

    Here’s Johnny !

  13. What works for me is scribbling random ideas/thoughts on the topic when they occur. I even do it in the dark in bed as I wait to fall asleep.

    Then collate scribbles on the bits of paper.

    Write 10%-20% more than required, then edit out the superfluous words & phrases.

  14. I can’t believe no one has mentioned the obvious.

    Timmy, your choice is to write the 10k words or to write 100 words strongly supporting Ritchie.

    TBH I think 10 supporting words would be enough but I’m trying to motivate you.

  15. Another one for diagrams first. I’ve just done another boundary review report, and drawing the maps is always easy, putting the words around them is sweating blood, but if I had to write the words before drawing the maps it would be sweating bricks.

    Much much prefer coding documentation, as that is a one-to-one translation from code to English.

  16. Sorry, not much sympathy for you at your age. You’ve been desperate to break into serious journalism for years, and when you finally get the chance you can’t produce.

    Sorry to be blunt, but either do it, or get out the way for someone who can.

  17. You’ll have to point out where it’s a piece of journalism that I’m having the problem with. Because I’ve no knowledge that it is. Rather, it’s a business report which is taking the time…..

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